Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Ceisteanna - Questions
I suspect the suggestion from the Minister with responsibility for climate action, communications networks and transport, Deputy Ryan, that taxi drivers should be removed from bus lanes was some sort of misguided notion about protecting the environment from CO2 emitting vehicles. I have already asked that that proposal be abandoned. I have a positive environmental, climate action proposal to put forward. If the Taoiseach and the Minister, Deputy Ryan, accepted that the ten-year rule for replacing vehicles should be extended to 12 years to avoid financially penalising taxi drivers who might have to replace their taxis, that would also give them time to do something the taxi drivers would very much support, provided the State did it properly and gave them support, namely, electrifying the entire taxi fleet. This has been done in London. There are vehicles that are suitable, although the Government would have to do something about the vehicle registration tax, VRT, and give significant grants. In the interregnum that we now have due to new restrictions and Covid, the Government could kill two birds with one stone. We could have a just transition whereby the taxi drivers are not punished by the Government but actually helped through this difficult period, while also using the interregnum to plan for the electrification of the entire taxi fleet. If I had more time, I would talk about the electrification of the bus fleet which should also be considered. That is a serious proposal whereby the Government could help the taxi drivers who are now in trouble and also plan for the future by reducing CO2 emissions from cars.