The taxi licence application process must be streamlined if supply shortages in the sector are to be addressed, a Fine Gael TD said.
Deputy Higgins said that the lack of available taxis in cities has become a serious issue in recent months.
“A major cause of this shortage is the difficulty in getting on the road for drivers. While I understand there have been some positive developments in test availability in certain areas in Dublin, in other areas there can still be a wait of up to six weeks to get a professional driving test. After the test, drivers then have to apply and wait for a Garda Clearance Cert – this is simply too long a timeline to getting drivers on the road,” Deputy Higgins explained.
“The number of SPSV licenses have increased in the last year, yet numbers are still significantly below levels s seen in previous years. The number of taxi drivers in Ireland has fallen sharply over the last decade with a 30% decrease when compared to 2012.
“The lack of taxis is particularly an issue during regular peak times and especially during big concerts and matches.
“Changes must be made to allow prospective drivers apply for their Garda clearance certificate when they apply for their test so that both processes can happen in parallel. This would help speed up the overall goal of getting more taxi drivers on the road quicker,” Deputy Higgins stated.
“I would also question if the geographical test is still fit for purpose. Asking drivers to memorise all local streets, landmarks, and amenities to get their licence is outdated and impractical.
“Currently, applicants are required to answer 36 questions on the local area and more than 75% of these questions must be correct to pass.
“The reality is that today, a lot of drivers rely on systems like GPS maps and sat navs to help them navigate the city. It’s important to keep high standards for taxi drivers and these modern means of guiding drivers should not be dismissed, as they help to supplement drivers’ own local knowledge.
“With increased concern about safety in Dublin city centre it is vital that there is a large supply of taxis available to the public, particularly in the evenings.
“It’s time these barriers to additional taxi drivers getting on the road are addressed– providing adequate means of transport around our cities should not be such a convoluted exercise.”