Late shopping will suffer chamber of commerce

 

Late-night shopping in Dublin city centre will be badly affected by the taxi dispute, according to Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Declan Martin, policy director of the chamber, said yesterday that night-time trade for bars and restaurants had also been affected and he estimated losses in that sector for last weekend at up to £1 million.

He said November was traditionally a slow retail month but if the dispute continued, late-night shopping would be "worst hit" and some people may chose to shop for Christmas in their locality rather than commute into the city centre.

"A lot of women tend to shop on Thursday night late shopping. They get a bus into town and then get a taxi home," he said.

According to Mr Martin, business for Dublin bars and restaurants last weekend was quieter than would have been expected and late-night shopping was also quieter than usual.

It was important to speed up the process of getting new taxis on the road, he said. However, he stressed that a large number of those receiving the licences would be hackneys.

"The number of cars in the pool is limited and what we will see is a substitution effect with a hackney becoming a taxi. Ultimately, the problem will come down to a shortage of drivers," he said.

Mr Brian Goff, chairman of the City Centre Business Association, yesterday urged the taxi-drivers to return to work and said they would be the "biggest losers" if they continued strike action.

He said the dispute had inconvenienced workers getting to and from work, especially those beginning work early in the morning or late at night. People worst affected were those who had to avail of taxis for age or health reasons.

The extension of the Nitelink and the DART had greatly helped the situation in recent days, he said. The public were changing their plans and patterns and finding alternative ways of commuting. Companies were also hiring private buses and hackney companies to meet their needs.

"There was always a recognition that something had to be done. Now it is being done and we are hopeful that consumers and customers will at long last have the taxi service they deserve," he said.

A spokesman for Dublin Bus said the new extended Nitelink service, which began last Thursday, was operating well. "Numbers are well up but nobody is being left behind."

He said no public order incidents were reported over the weekend. Dublin Bus would carefully monitor the service, particularly the new pickup points outside the city centre.