Taxi drivers 'considering strike action' after fare hike row
TAXI drivers are considering strike action after the National Transport Authority (NTA) announced changes to the fare charging structures.
The Irish Taxi Federation has said that there is a "quite serious" level of anger surrounding the average 4pc increase announcement made by the NTA earlier this week.
Joe Herron, head of the federation, said that drivers believed the proposed changes would leave them worse off and that they were angry about the proposed abolition of the 'C' tariff.
That tariff allows for an increased fare rate for journeys of more than 30km, 86mins or over, or costing more than €36.
"There is a quite serious level of anger. What they are calling an increase is actually a decrease.
"They want to do away with the 'C' tariff and they are reducing the [initial] charge," Mr Herron said.
Under the NTA proposals the standard fare rate, which applies between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday, would be reduced from €4.10 to €3.60.
However, the tariff per kilometre travelled would increase from €1.03 to €1.10, or 36c per minute to 39c.
Similar changes will be introduced at premium times between 8pm and 8am, on Sundays and on public holidays.
Mr Herron said that the proposals have angered taxi drivers who see the changes as an overall reduction in what they receive for their work.
"The members would support an increase, but just a small increase. Keep in mind that there has been no increase since 2008," he said.
"That's a matter for the members," he said, when asked if a strike was possible, adding that there was serious anger among drivers about the proposed changes.
Announcing the proposals, John Fitzgerald, chairman of the NTA, has said he expects increases to be approved as the costs of running a taxi have increased.
The NTA recommended increases in 2010 and 2012, but drivers asked for them not to be imposed amid concerns it would drive customers away.
However, they now believe that economic growth, a rise in the number of people in work and increased fuel and running costs justify a fare hike.
The proposal is out for public consultation until December 9, but Mr Fitzgerald told a Dail committee he expected them to be approved.
The move was part of a restructuring of the fare system to make it easier to understand.
"The taxi fees are being looked at and I think there will be a recommendation for an increase," he said.
"There is an attempt to simplify fares because some are antiquated. My expectation is there will be an increase."
As part of the changes the special rate that was charged for Christmas Day and New Year's Day will be abolished, but an additional charge of 25pc will be imposed on bills.