Taxi commission to take over licensing role
The licensing of more than 41,100 drivers of small public service vehicles is to be taken over by the Commission for Taxi Regulation in the coming months.
The commissioner for taxi regulation Kathleen Doyle, told The Irish Timesher office is in talks with the Garda about taking over the driver testing and administration of the Small Public Vehicle Licence (SPVL), which includes more than 22,000 taxi and hackney drivers.
Currently every taxi and hackney driver has to apply for a SPVL licence which is administered by the Garda at the Carriage Office in Dublin and by local Garda PSV inspectors around the country.
Obtaining the licence requires the driver to pass a test of general knowledge and route selection. Ms Doyle also stressed that the test was consistent.
"The applicants are then vetted by the gardaí to check that they are a fit and proper person to be a taxi driver," she said. "We are in talks about taking over the administration side of that licensing next year from the gardaí, but they will retain the vetting side," Ms Doyle said.
The role is part of the Commission's remit under legislation, but it would require additional staff and resources to take on the role.
Ms Doyle added that the Commission has also started development of a new driver skills programme to replace the existing test.
The Regulator is also reviewing the public service vehicle licence fee structure and in particular the relatively low cost of €250 for hackney and limousine licences. There are about 5,000 such vehicles licensed in the State.
"The fee at the moment is €250 . . . and we must bring it to a realistic fee from the industry point of view.
"The same level of work is put in by the Commission for new hackney and limousine licences as for taxi licences, so there needs to be a little bit more consistency there," she said.
Last week, Dublin City Council advised the Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, against a request from the Regulator that hackneys and limousines be allowed to use bus lanes.
Had this proposal been accepted, Ms Doyle said the licence cost review would have been fast-tracked to prevent members of the public buying such a licence to gain access to bus lanes.
However, under the circumstances, licence fees for drivers and vehicles will both be reviewed next year.
There are almost 22,000 taxis, hackneys and limousines registered in the State with taxis accounting for 73 per cent, hackeys 21 per cent and limousines about 6 per cent.