Taxi reforms to see ban on drivers with serious convictions
AN “UNACCEPTABLE volume of rogue traders” and those with a range of criminal convictions are to be barred from the taxi industry.
Minister for State Alan Kelly said reform would include regulation and “the most comprehensive taxi Bill ever” to be published within weeks.
The new legislation will ban individuals with “certain types of convictions” from being taxi drivers.
But in advance of the new legislation being enacted next spring, Mr Kelly also revealed a package of reforms which are aimed at ending fraud and malpractice in the industry.
These include a new green and blue branding for taxis which is to come into force from January. The branding on taxi doors will include the driver’s licence number. A new online system that will link the driver with the vehicle will allowing passenger and regulators to check the appropriate driver is in the vehicle. This will also help regulators ensure taxis are not duplicated by criminals.
Other measures include:
Implementation of a nine-year age limit for vehicles.
Prohibition of the sale or transfer of licences.
Prohibition of the rental of “plates only” by licence holders. In future rental packages must include the plate and the vehicle and the person providing the rental must be responsible for insurance for the rental period.
Reducing to one year the period in which a licence may be inactive
Prohibition of vehicles with tinted windows.
Mr Kelly said the new branding would ensure “that part-time drivers would have to take their industry far more seriously”.
Prospective candidates for a taxi licence with convictions up to and including rape, could apply to the courts to overturn a vetting decision on the basis of their need to earn a living.
Mr Kelly said he believed there was an oversupply of taxis in the industry and removing the rogue traders would provide a taxi fleet of the size “that would meet our needs”.
The new Bill will also introduce a penalty points system for licence holders which would ultimately allow for licences to be revoked.
However, Tiománaí Taxi na hÉireann, a voluntary group representing Dublin drivers, has warned it will see a judicial review of the Minister’s proposals.