Cabby Shortage Leads Cork County Council To Call For New Taxi Rules

By Seamus Whelehan

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Cork County Council has called on the Minister for transport Shane Ross to review the criteria for the Small public service vehicle licence (SPSVL) and to tackle the high cost of insurance for Taxi / Hackney owners.
The move comes following a motion tabled by Cllr Chris O’Sullivan at the October sitting of full council.
The Fianna Fail Cllr told the authority industry regulations need updating to reflect new technology, and to help increase tourism and businesses in rural Ireland.
The high cost of insurance and the introduction of a “knowledge test” has the industry facing possible extinction as it struggle to attract new entrants.
The number of taxi drivers on our roads has dropped by over 20,000 in the past 8 years, nationally we have 26,071 taxis on our roads, down from 47,200 registered in 2009.
Under the SPSVL drivers are required to have an in-depth knowledge of their County including numbers of motorways and national roads, housing estates, popular pubs and clubs and emergency services.
Cllr Chris O’Sullivan the SPSVL testing is so difficult “It would almost be easier to obtain a degree in astrophysics then to pass it.”
“There is one situation in my home town of Clonakilty where an applicant who eventually passed the licence but only did so after 10 efforts when it cost him €100 per test.”
Sinn Fein Cllr Rachel Mccarthy said “the system seems to be designed to fail. The questions are so pie in the sky it’s virtually impossible to pass it.”
Independent Cllr Kevin Conway a hackney driver himself agreed with Cllr Mccarthy he said “we went from one extreme to the other in this country. We deregulated the system, we flooded the market and now we’ve gone into what is effectively a regulation system again to the point it’s so restrictive people can’t get into it.”
While Independent Cllr Danny Collins said of the test “it seems it was Magnus Magnusson who set the questions. People are not taking the test because it’s simply so hard to do. “
He said “if the drink driving laws come in that our minister for Transport is about to bring through the Dáil it will put more pressure on our hackneys in Cork County.”
The Road Traffic Bill 2017 Minister Shane Ross want to see a zero tolerance to drink driving. Under his bill he proposes an automatic 3 month ban on driving for those caught just over the legal blood alcohol limit and also intends to name and shame drivers caught.
Fine Gael Cllr Tom O’Sullivan there was a great case for being made for localised licencing.
“Knowing the geography of half the county is one thing, but most of the journeys the hackney drivers do are short journeys within a couple of miles of the local town or hinterland.”
“If we are going to retain businesses in rural areas we’ve got to get people to be able to travel to them in a reasonable fashion and in a mode of transport that’s not going to cost the earth.”

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