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Time to drive on with Uber to bypass rural transport problem – Ahearn

Minister for Transport needs to get serious about offering viable taxi and hackney options

27th December 2023 - Senator Garret Ahearn

The National Transport Authority’s (NTA) resistance to services like Uber need to be addressed by the Minister for Transport or people living in rural Ireland will continue to suffer, a Fine Gael Senator has said.

Fine Gael Senator Garret Ahearn said that Minister Ryan should be doing more to ensure a quicker roll out of taxis and hackneys in areas outside the main urban cities.

“This Christmas, we’ve seen once again in areas like my own of Clonmel and in towns and villages right around the country, the curtailment of people’s socialising and shopping through to a lack of decent transport,” he said.

“We are experiencing a significant shortage of taxi services in our rural towns that has been evident particularly throughout this busy season. It’s high time we saw some intent from the Minister for Transport to address the problem – it’s not acceptable that the NTA have such a stranglehold on the rollout and delivery of a reliable service.

“While Uber has been in Ireland and is licensed by the NTA since 2014, it still only operates in our cities and is subject to the same regulations as other small public service vehicles (SPSV) operators. Dispatch operators are required to only provide bookings to SPSV licensed drivers using SPSV licensed vehicles.

“Minister Ryan continues to dodge any meaningful discussions around introducing Uber to rural passengers.

“At the beginning of this year, he launched the 2023 Local Hackney pilot scheme, a one-year grant-aided pilot programme that aims to assist in the provision of part-time local hackney services in designated rural areas which cannot support a full-time taxi or hackey operation.

“But this pilot is currently only servicing 21 locations nationwide and even at that, local hackneys may only pick up passengers within a designated area of between 7-10km from a chosen point.

“Those living in our cities and major urban centres are afforded choice when it comes to transport. There’s public transport, and various taxi options. A choice of transport is something most people in rural Ireland can only dream about – they need a safe, reliable mode of transport that can take them where they need to go, be it to meet friends, attend an appointment or do shopping.

“For too long Minister Ryan has passed the buck to the NTA, leaving the ball entirely in their court to veto who drives our taxis, from where and when.

“Fine Gael is serious about delivering for rural Ireland and ease of access has to be a top priority for Minister Ryan in 2024,” Senator Ahearn said



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