Rural hackney licences now possible
Public Transport Minister Alan Kelly has welcomed the passing of new regulations by the board of the National Transport Authority that allows for the introduction of the ‘Local Area Hackney Licence’ or ‘Rural Hackney’ licence.
23 December 2013
This licence, designed to facilitate low-cost entry into the taxi sector for isolated rural areas, is being introduced on a pilot basis and applications can be made to the National Transport Authority.
These regulations allow the National Transport Authority to grant hackney licenses for isolated rural areas at a low cost of approximately €50 in the case of a vehicle licence. Currently, hackney licences are only being issued to vehicles that are wheelchair-accessible which can bring the cost of providing such a service to in excess of €30,000 and would not be viable.
The recommendation for a low-cost hackney licence for rural areas came from the Government’s taxi regulation review, chaired by the Minister who said it was crucial to come up with creative solutions to improve transport connections in rural areas.
“Access to transport is a major problem in rural Ireland and we needed to think creatively about how to solve it,” he explained, “We’re all only too well aware of many isolated people in rural communities that are unable to access their local services. The taxi regulation system has not been designed for isolated areas of rural Ireland and this is a way it may do so.”
The National Transport Authority will now establish an application process as part of the granting of these licences following public consultation.
Applicants for the licence will have to be sanctioned by a local business or community group and will need to demonstrate that their area has a deficit of public transport and taxi services. This will require the approval of the local authority.
“What I hope is that the rural transport groups, working with the local authorities, will be able to identify the areas most in need of access to transport and licences can be granted on that basis,” added the Minister, “It will be done on a pilot basis initially.
“The aim is to provide people with social mobility and give people a way of accessing shops, health services and local events.”
The VFI has welcomed the Minister’s initiative.
“We’ve been campaigning for some assistance in respect of transport in rural areas for some time,” commented VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “This Minister seems to understand the problems encountered in rural areas and has taken a welcome first step in addressing same.
“There will be a number of pilot areas early in 2014 and we look forward to see how they will operate and what tweaking may be necessary to make them really effective.
“It is a good initiative and it needs to be spread out very quickly and not be suffocated by any unnecessary red tape,” he concluded.