Worse taxi service after fare hike - FG


Tomorrow's substantial increases in taxi fares in Dublin will make the service worse rather than better, according to Fine Gael's transport spokeswoman, Ms Olivia Mitchell.

Fares rise by 27 per cent for "unsocial hours" (nights, Sundays and bank holidays) and by 15.4 per cent during the day, for a five-mile journey. The increase comes into operation at noon tomorrow.

Ms Mitchell says the rise is so great that it will deter people from using taxis. "It will prove counter-productive, particularly for young people who use taxis at night and are now likely to find other ways of getting around."

She also points out that for longer journeys the increase is much greater. For a 10-mile journey during unsocial hours, the increase is almost 40 per cent and the fare for longer journeys will rise by 60 per cent.

Passengers can avoid the new fares for the time being by using taxis equipped with manual meters, or with electronic meters which have not been recalibrated. These will continue charging the old fares, plus an 80 pence flat rate surcharge imposed since December 1st, until they are recalibrated by the metrology service of the Department of Public Service.

According to Ms Mitchell, the taxi industry is irretrievably fragmented. "There are too many operators, no central reservation system and it's almost impossible to know how to find a taxi."

County councillors in the four Dublin local authorities voted overwhelmingly in favour of the increase, which was recommended in a report by Goodbody Economic Consultants. This found that taxi charges in Dublin were lower than in other major cities, especially at night. The consultants recommended that fares be increased to ensure that taxi-drivers did not have to work excessive hours to earn a living. Deregulation has put an extra 5,000 taxis on Dublin's street but there are indications service remains notoriously unreliable, particularly at off-peak periods.