Uber loses road rights in London but Irish ban unlikely

Irish drivers already vetted, registered and operating within regulations says NTA

Uber cars in London differ to black cabs because they are private hire vehicles which cannot be hailed on the street, and they set their own prices. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

Uber cars in London differ to black cabs because they are private hire vehicles which cannot be hailed on the street, and they set their own prices. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA

 

Car-sharing app Uber is unlikely to face calls for a ban in Ireland, the National Transport Authority has said following the city of London decision to ban the service.

A spokesman for the National Transport Authority said the regulatory system in Ireland was significantly different. He said all drivers of for-hire vehicles such as taxis, limousines and hackneys already have to be Garda vetted and registered.

He said Uber is available in the Republic but the service can only be offered by existing drivers. In effect, if you use Uber in Ireland you are calling a taxi, he said.

On Friday, Transport for London (TfL) said Uber will not have its operating licence extended beyond September 30th as the car sharing app was “not fit and proper” due to “public safety and security implications”.

Mr Khan said the decision not to allow Uber to operate in the city beyond September 30th was taken by TfL but it was one which he fully supported because of a “threat to Londoners’ safety and security”.

‘Closed to innovative companies’

Uber said the decision would “show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.

Uber cars in London differ to black cabs because they are private hire vehicles which cannot be hailed on the street, and they set their own prices. Drivers do not need to pass the street knowledge test but are subject to criminal record background tests.

Meanwhile Joe Heron of the Irish Taxi Driver Federation, a member of the National Transport Authority’s Advisory Committee on Small Public Service Vehicles, says recent cuts in the number of registered drivers did not result in a shortage of taxis.

Figures from the authority this week showed the number of taxi drivers in the State had dropped to 26,087 last month, down from 47,222 active drivers eight years ago.

Mr Heron said “many, many people” would have traditionally had a Public Service Vehicle licence and, following liberalisation of the taxi system in 2000, many people saw the taxi industry as offering an accessible new job.

Saturated

However, he said that, with the collapse of the economy in 2008-2009, the industry across the State had become saturated with drivers of hackneys, limousines and taxis. He said it was an extremely difficult time for taxis.

With the economic recovery drivers were affected by more business but also many of them had gone back to different industries. He said he believed many drivers were just starting to “earn a living” with the increased work available.

He defended the taxi app MyTaxi for its decision to add a fee of €2 for collecting passengers.

“That is only a charge for collecting passengers, some drivers can be asked to travel 3km to collect a passenger. We always had a collection charge unless somebody picked up a taxi on a rank but new entrants dropped that for a while as they felt it would win more business,” he said.