herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Taxis may have to accept Leap card in new shake-up

Taxi customers will be able to pay their fares using Leap cards or credit cards under new proposals to change the industry.

Banning certain categories of criminal from driving the cars and an annual social welfare review for both drivers and taxi owners are also among the 46 recommendations.

The proposals, made in a Department of Transport Taxi Review, suggest an extension of garda powers in relation to taxis and making those with certain criminal convictions reapply to the courts to keep their taxi licence.

Renting of licences would not be allowed and the Department would have to be notified if a taxi was being rented out.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport Alan Kelly, who has responsibility for public and commuter transport, says he expects a serious exit of drivers from the industry as a result of the new measures which are expected to come before the Dail "in the second quarter of this year".

Reduced

"We intend to produce legislation under the Taxi Regulation Act to ensure that those who are convicted of serious crimes will no longer be able to operate a taxi, and this will be retrospective," he added.

Part-time drivers would have to declare where else they were employed and the term of all licences would be reduced from five years to three years.

Any taxi driver convicted of an offence would have these details entered on a database and information about licence holders would also be exchanged with Revenue to ensure tax compliance.

Vehicles that are more than nine years old would be subject to six monthly roadworthiness assessments and there would be a ban on using "pick-up type vehicles" as taxis or hackneys.

Tinted windows would also be banned, apart from limousines. New compact roof signs and tamper proof licence discs would also be introduced.

Under the new proposals, the transfer or sale of taxi licences after October 1 of this year would be prohibited. Key taxi ranks would be monitored by CCTV to provide greater security for the public and technology would identify cars entitled to use the particular taxi rank.

The Minister also said his department is looking at the possibility of taxi drivers being trained in hospitality because they are the first point of contact for visitors.

He said the new measures would stop rogue operators and those who run an honest business would be rewarded.

csheehy@herald.ie

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