Taxi Bill to target 'criminality'
A new Bill to ban individuals with “certain types of criminal convictions” from working as taxi drivers is to be published within weeks.
The legislation - described as “the most comprehensive taxi Bill ever” - aims to end criminality in the industry and will introduce a penalty points system for taxi licence-holders.
The new Bill, which Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly said he hopes will be enacted early next year, will be preceded by a suite of regulations which are set to be introduced from January next.
Mr Kelly said he believed there was an over-supply of taxis in the market, adding the volume of rogue traders was unacceptable and their removal would result in an industry of a size “that would meet our needs”.
Unveiling a new taxi branding in Dublin Castle this morning, he said the green and white branding would be predominantly displayed on drivers’ doors from January and would incorporate the taxi licence number. This would show professionalism and would ensure part-time drivers "would have to take their industry far more seriously" because the branding will be on the vehicles. "They can’t be just willy-nilly about when they are going to be drivers," he said.
Mr Kelly said the branding would ensure that “we can see who is driving a vehicle at any time; the number of the licence is obviously on the door and in real time we will obviously be able to find out if that person behind the wheel shouldn’t be behind the wheel”.
He said that from the point of view of dealing with rogue traders, this was a “fantastic” improvement.
In relation to the new Bill, he said the penalty points system would ultimately allow for taxi licences to be revoked. He said penalties would range from penalty points to graduated fines.
The Minister did not elaborate on the range of criminal convictions which would bar an individual from holding a taxi licence. But he said the Bill was designed to set out who should be behind the wheel of a taxi - and who shouldn’t - in the most comprehensive way ever.
However, Tiomanai Tascaí na hÉireann - a voluntary group representing drivers across Dublin has warned it will see a judicial review of the minister’s proposals.
In a statement this evening, the group said Mr Kelly had previously assured single licence holders that the changes would be favourable to their interests. But the orgainsation said it did not see how the changes such as a ban on the sale of licences could be favourable to them.
Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Timmy Dooley said he was concerned by the lack of detail about the new penalty points system.
“There is a genuine fear that taxi drivers will be penalised for plying for hire, which means if a taxi rank is full and they park behind it they will be penalised," he said. "If that is the case a lot of taxi drivers would be off the road within a week given the scarcity of official taxi tanks throughout the country."