Thursday, 18 April 2013
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport if he will review the regulations governing wheelchair accessible taxis; if his attention has been drawn to the implications of these changes for persons with a physical disability, particularly in rural communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18095/13]
The regulation of the taxi industry, including issues pertaining to vehicle age limit, is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) under the Public Transport Regulation Act, 2009. The NTA is the lead agency with responsibility for implementation of the recommendations of the Taxi Regulation Review Report 2011.
The NTA carried out a consultation on vehicle standards as part of the Taxi Regulation Review which gave rise to recommendations for strengthening vehicle standards.
Action 10 of the Review Report recommends retention of the 9 year vehicle age limit that applies at licence issue or renewal for all new vehicles entering the fleet. For existing vehicles in the fleet licensed prior to 1 January 2009, these can operate up to the 15th anniversary of each vehicle's first registration subject to 6-monthly NCT testing and NTA licence renewal assessment. In the circumstances, there is no change in the vehicle standards required for incumbent licence holders.
An upper age limit has been applied this year for all wheelchair accessible vehicles, along with all other taxis and hackneys. The rule states that all such vehicles exit the SPSV fleet on their 15th birthday. An upper age limit has been introduced for replacement vehicles entering the fleet, such vehicles must not have passed their 10th birthday which is in line and equitable with, all other taxis and hackneys.
New vehicle standards, not retrospectively applied to incumbent operators, have been in place for replacement vehicles since the 1st of January 2012. Single side access is not mandated. Indeed, two-sided access was never mandated either. The new standards allow for certain modern "rear entry" vehicles that would previously not have been capable of being licensed.