Taxi drivers to fight against removal of ranks in Dublin

Proposal to move ranks to other streets during Luas construction is rejected by drivers

On Wednesday, January 15th more than one hundred taxi drivers gathered outside Dáil Éireann to protest a series of changes to the sector including the removal of taxi ranks.

Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 15:11

Dublin taxi have said they plan to continue to campaign against the closure of ranks in the city.

“We’re going to lose 57 taxi spots around the city because of the Luas construction” said Jim Waldron, spokesperson for the National Private Hire & Taxi Association.

During the construction he said ranks in Stephen’s Green, Dawson Street, Grafton Street and O’Connell Street will close.

He rejected the Department of Transport’s suggestion of moving the ranks to nearby areas such as Marlborough Street.

“These aren’t busy thoroughfares, there aren’t enough people looking for taxis.”

He was speaking after nearly 350 taxis gathered outside Dáil Éireann yesterday afternoon as part of a protest over a series of changes to the sector being considered by the Government. “We were overwhelmed by the support,” said Mr Waldron.

“Now we have to sit together around the table and plan the next step.”

Mr Waldron teamed up with David McGuinness, Chairperson for TTNH (Tiománaí Tacsaí na hÉireann) to organise yesterday’s rally outside Leinster house.

Mr McGuinness believes the closure of taxi ranks will be detrimental to Dublin’s public transport system.

“The government has suggested transport integration, but that should mean taxi ranks beside Luas and bus stops,” said Mr McGuinness.

In January last year Minister for Public Commuter Transport Alan Kelly, announced changes for the sector.

The department now proposes to introduce a number of these, including the introduction of specialist wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Mr Waldron is worried these wheelchair friendly taxis will increase congestion on the streets of Dublin and take business away from existing drivers.

Costel Podaru from Tallaght, who joined yesterday’s protest said: “The Government is making it harder and harder for us to make a living,” he said.

“I’m not against the new Luas line but they should consult us, they never talk to taxi drivers before they make decisions.” Paul Higginbotham, who’s been driving a taxi for 23 years, said all his friends had come out in support of the protest.

“We’re giving up two hours of our own time and using our own diesel,” he said. “It’s gone crazy in Dublin, these changes mean they’ll be able to fine you €40-€200 and give out penalty points. If you get 12 penalty points you’re off the road.”

Other Government proposals include a booklet advising drivers on credit/debit card payment trends, highlighting a number of card payment solutions available to taxi drivers.

However, many drivers are unhappy with the card charges they will be forced to pay. “We shouldn’t have to take the hit,” David Horgan from Drimnagh said at the rally yesterday. “We’re not supposed to be sole traders.”

Mr Waldron plans to sending a submission to the Government by January 31st outlining taxi drivers’ grievances.

He is still waiting for a response from the Department following yesterday’s rally. “The problem is the Government hasn’t recognised taxi drivers’ requests in the past,” he said.