herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

RTE paid out €800 each day on taxi fares

RTE spent almost €800 a day on taxis last year, ferrying contributors to various TV and radio shows.

Figures released by RTE in response to a Freedom of Information request show the broadcaster's spend on taxis increased last year to €287,444 in spite of swingeing cuts in all other areas of its operations.

Between 2012 and 2013, RTE reduced its operating costs by €28m.

tender

However, during that period the spend on taxis increased by €18,1486 from €269,298 to €287,444 - a jump of 6.7pc on 2012.

The spend per day on taxis last year totalled €787.51.

A spokeswoman for RTE yesterday pointed out the sharp reduction in overall operating costs in 2013.

"When necessary, RTE provides taxis for contributors to programmes," she said.

"There was a marginal increase (6.7pc) in taxi costs in 2013 largely due to changes in programme schedule - for example, types of programmes requiring contributors, the duration of programme seasons (the number of episodes), et cetera.

"Following on from a tender process to ensure competitive terms, RTE has a formal arrangement in place with two firms for the provision of taxi services."

The FOI decision-maker in the case said the €287,444 figure only takes into account taxi companies with whom RTE has contractual arrangements.

It does not include instances where individuals engage a taxi directly and claim the fare on production of a receipt.

The decision-maker said the collation of these figures "would require the retrieval and review of all expense items for those years to obtain the expense item specifically relating to those taxi journeys".

RTE's FOI unit declined to reveal the top 10 amounts - the biggest fares - paid out to taxi firms last year.

"This refusal is made on the basis that this information is commercially sensitive," the unit said.

prejudice

"Its disclosure could prejudice RTE's position in terms of both ongoing and future contractual negotiations with related service providers."

The spend by RTE on taxis last year would have included the much-publicised taxi ride to take Michael Healy Rae on the 650km round-trip from Kilgarvan to appear at RTE's Dublin studios for the Saturday Night Show.

The estimated fare for Deputy Healy Rae's trip would have been around €400.

hnews@herald.ie

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