Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Taxi Regulations

Photo of Joanna TuffyJoanna Tuffy (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of a number of taxi drivers (details supplied) regarding the recommendations for the taxi industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57526/12]

Photo of Alan KellyAlan Kelly (Tipperary North, Labour)
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Overall the thrust of the reforms contained in the Taxi Regulation Review Report 2011 will mean better services for consumers and improvements to the operating environment for taxi drivers generally.  It is acknowledged that some of the measures proposed by the Taxi Review may lead to increased costs for individuals. However these should be offset by the benefits to the industry in terms of  a better regulated and safer taxi sector.

Many of the areas of concern to the Deputy have been addressed in the provisions of the Taxi Regulation Bill 2012, which was published earlier this month. The Bill will support measures to ensure that operators and drivers can operate under a robust regulatory framework that is supported by an effective enforcement regime. The provisions of the Bill include mandatory disqualification from holding a driver licence upon convictions of specified serious offences. This measure is in addition to the existing arrangement for Garda vetting of taxi drivers.  There is also provision for the assessment of the suitability of a person to hold a licence linked to new powers for the licensing authority to revoke or suspend, or to refuse to grant a licence, as well as a demerit scheme aimed at penalising persistent breaches of the taxi regulations.

The Taxi Regulation Bill provides for the prohibition on the transfer of a vehicle licence as envisaged in the Taxi Regulation Review Report. The underlying principle for this proposal is that a licence should determine a person's suitability to carry out a function and it should have no monetary value or be traded on the open market.  The prohibition on transfer will apply to company licences and a further technical amendment to the legislation will be required to fully address the issue of company licences.  

Concerning vehicle standards and the age of some vehicles currently operating in the industry, the Taxi Review Group proposed to allow vehicles licensed before 2009 to continue to operate to the point where the vehicle reaches the fifteenth anniversary of its first registration subject to a twice yearly NCT test and licence renewal assessment. This will allow some time for vehicle owners and drivers to adjust to the new standards regime. The intention is that, over time, vehicles older than nine years will be removed from the taxi and hackney fleet. It is anticipated that this measure will be implemented from 31 January 2013.  

There is provision made in the Taxi Regulation Bill 2012 for appeals and representations to be made with regard to SPSV licensing and the decisions of the licensing authority.   

The Taxi Advisory Committee, which I appointed during this summer, includes representatives of small public service vehicle and driver interests in line with the provisions of Section 54 of the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003.  

The regulation of the small public service vehicle (SPSV) industry, including entry requirements and the operation of the testing process under the SPSV skills development programme, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the Taxi Regulation Act, 2003. In this regard, I have referred your question to the NTA for direct reply. Please advise my private office if you do not receive a response within 10 working days. 


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