Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon’s consultation on taxi fares will not be enough to address a driver shortage, Ireland’s largest taxi business owner has said.
illiam McCausland, who runs FonaCab, said the consultation is akin to “flying over massive cracks in a wall and does not solve the real problem which is the shortage of drivers”.
The taxi fare consultation was launched by the Infrastructure Ministry on Friday to tackle the hard-hit taxi industry, which has bled drivers during the pandemic.
As a result, Mr. McCausland lost a third of his employees. Much of this loss is due to an aging and retired workforce coupled with the lack of a pipeline of future drivers.
The Infrastructure Ministry has now launched the targeted consultation on a review of taxi fares as part of its ongoing plans to help the taxi industry as they “rebuild themselves following Covid restrictions.”
Ms Mallon said: “Throughout the pandemic, I have spoken regularly with the taxi industry and recognized the pressures they have been under. I have provided £ 16.7million in support to existing drivers from the two financial and regulatory support programs I put in place last year and remain committed to working with the industry to continue to monitor the impact of the Covid restrictions on them.
“Last week I announced an action plan to provide additional support to the taxi industry and a key part of that was the intention to consult on taxi fares as it was about a specific concern raised during our engagement with the taxi industry. “
She said once the responses to the consultation have been analyzed, officials will provide a report, with any changes implemented to take place before the Christmas period.
But Mr McCausland fears that the planned fare increase will do little to increase the number of taxi drivers.
He anticipates an increase of 10 pence per mile and adds: “There is a chronic shortage of drivers and that is the real problem. It is said that fares will increase by 10p per mile across the board, which is not enough to lure drivers into the industry or encourage them to work unsociable hours. It only drives up a tariff from £ 10 to around £ 11, not enough to get people to work in the evenings.
“In my opinion there must be a 50% increase on the weekend night rates. So that would drop a tariff from £ 10 to £ 15. “
He said FonaCab had to refuse more than 50% of its weekend night calls due to the drop in the number of drivers.
Before the pandemic, FonaCab had 1,400 drivers – it now has 900.
He added: “There are three issues facing the industry; a, entry into the industry is not fit for purpose and since an exam was introduced it has produced an average pass rate of 20%. Secondly, the drivers also need a greater reward for working at night and evenings on weekends, and thirdly, we are faced with Class C chauffeurs, companies who see themselves as limousines and may charge for this. that they want.
Mr McCausland said he would like to discuss other issues facing the sector with Ms Mallon.
He added: “We deserve to be spoken to. Minister Mallon must now consider other things to rectify the problem. We are not asking for anything difficult or outrageous.