‘Passenger safety will be compromised’ if ride-sharing apps are introduced as a solution to taxi shortage, claims taxi boss

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The head of a leading Irish taxi operator has said rigs of ‘driving’ automobiles are less regulated and therefore less safe than taxis.

EO of the Lynk taxi app, Noel Ebbs hit back at comments from Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, who recently pointed out the current shortage of taxis in Dublin and said he found it easier to “take a ride” in other countries.

The Tánaiste said platforms such as Uber and Lyft could play a role in solving the current taxi shortage.

Uber, in other countries, facilitates paid lifts in the cars of private drivers. Currently, you can only use the Uber app in Ireland to book a regulated taxi driver.

To become an Uber driver in Ireland, you must have a taxi license.

However, Mr. Ebbs argued that caution was in order.

“While some people think it might be ‘easier to get a ride,’ passenger safety will be compromised with platforms that allow unregistered and unregulated drivers to act as taxis,” a- he declared.

“At present the taxi industry is regulated, which means that vehicles must meet a certain standard and drivers cannot operate without first passing the required tests and then obtaining Garda authorization. .

“If we introduce platforms that allow anyone to operate a taxi, standards across the board will fall.

“But not just standards. Safety too. And this at a time when the world – the US, UK and Europe – is heading in the opposite direction, with many countries beginning the process of cleaning up and regulation of the ridesharing industry, and some, in fact, super-regulate it.

Mr Ebbs agreed that there is currently a shortage of taxis to meet peak hour demand. He said the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the war on Ukraine, created the current problems and drivers, “who are doing their best”, should not be blamed.

He added: ‘It’s Covid’s fault and Vladimir Putin’s fault. First, by creating a labor shortage, as many of our national cousins ​​have returned home during the pandemic to be with their families.

“While many others have decided not to return to work due to age or underlying health conditions, which puts them at risk.

“Second, in the form of Mr. Putin, who has caused the biggest and fastest rise in fuel prices, unprecedented since the industrial revolution, which sometimes makes the exploitation of many taxi drivers unprofitable.

“These two problems have combined to create the perfect storm causing this labor shortage. The expected rate increase later this year should solve the economic problem, for those who are currently working anyway. .”

Currently, taxi drivers in Ireland must pass two exams to enter the industry – the Industry Knowledge Test and the Area Knowledge Test.

Mr Ebbs said these were two “tough tests” that many taxi applicants fail on the first try.

‘Free for all’

“The Area Knowledge test is particularly difficult. And all of that takes time. Time that we don’t really have at the moment, especially considering the map and navigation apps available to us, which almost every taxi drivers are using. Maybe we should look at that,” he said.

“Overall, we need to find smarter solutions than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

“If we deregulated to the point of free-for-all, many of our trusted taxi drivers would be extinct from the industry.

“Many Irish taxi drivers have years of experience and we need to protect that.”

It comes as the National Transport Authority (NTA) announced that taxi fares would increase by 12% from September, while drivers must also offer cashless payment options to customers.

Chief executive of taxi firm Free Now Ireland, Niall Carson, said the increase will help drivers raise costs and increase the national fleet.

“The proposed 12% fare increase will help taxi drivers manage rising operating costs and earn a more reasonable living while continuing to provide essential public transport across the country,” he said. he declares.

“An overwhelming majority of our driver partners surveyed last month said their ability to continue working as a taxi driver would be compromised if the NTA fare increase had not taken effect.

“We hope the new rates will not only help existing taxi drivers maintain their careers in the industry, but will also help aspiring drivers consider joining the licensed taxi driver fleet.

“With our national taxi fleet which has shrunk by 30% over the last 10 years and which continues to deplete since the pandemic, it is crucial that we retain the excellent drivers we already have on our roads, while exploring also the means to bring new drivers on board.

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