Deregulation Of Taxi Service
Sir, - The Green Party, while welcoming the imminent increase in taxi numbers following the High Court ruling, believes that the Minister of State, Bobby Molloy, may be putting party politics and free market ideology ahead of the long term public interest.
Deregulation may end up being an extremely blunt instrument. Rather than relying on market forces to set the standard of the taxi service, the Green Party is calling for the introduction of emergency legislation to allow for further regulations in the new taxi market.
It may be hard to believe but in a fully deregulated market there may be too many taxis, blocking bus lanes and clogging the city centre during the day, while at night there could still be a shortage. The regulations should allow for an upper limit on the number of licences and should require each licence to do a compulsory number of evening hours each year.
To ensure that the new licences provide an efficient and reliable service, the Minister should introduce legislation to set up a central radio control centre and the installation of satellite positioning systems in every taxi. This would allow for the nearest taxi in the entire fleet to be directed to each calling address.
The Minister could use the new taxi initiative to improve our lungs and general health by insisting that all taxis be converted to more environmentally-friendly fuel such as biodiesel, liquid petroleum gas, or compressed gas fuel.
Finally the Greens believe that all new licence plates should only go to owners of wheelchair-accessible vehicles. The delay in this provision for three years allows the Minister to be seen to be doing something for Christmas but delays the introduction of an equitable and quality service.
The High Court rightly threw out the Government proposal which would have protected the position of current plate holders, but the present rush by Minister Molloy for free market deregulation should not deny the public from having a say in the type of taxi service we want.
The Greens welcome new licences but we want the provision of standards for vehicles and for drivers, along with standards that ensure an environmentally friendly, efficient and equitable service. - Yours, etc.,
Cllr Eamon Ryan, Green Party City Councillor, Ranelagh, Dublin 6.