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 Header Item Taxi Regulation Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Second Stage (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Taxi Regulation Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Referral to Select Committee

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 809 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly] For example, the National Transport Authority has developed an app for one's telephone that enables one to check every taxi driver before getting into the car. This is a fantastic, widely used application, which incidentally is used a great deal by taxi drivers. One also sees the Hailo app among others and technology is contributing greatly. However, one must be able to ensure the industry is good enough both to allow this technology to facilitate people and to embrace the technology in the first place in order that it all works together, as I believe it will.

I propose to introduce a number of amendments on Committee Stage on a range of issues, one of which concerns the issue of a notification to the employer that one is driving a taxi. There is an issue regarding the volume of hours that drivers work that often is discussed with the Road Safety Authority in my Department. Some drivers could have other jobs and I note the case of the "Prime Time Investigates" television programme when someone also was a bus driver. This issue must be dealt with because it is not safe to drive vehicles, be they buses or trucks, for hours on end and then get into a taxi straight away and continue driving. I believe everyone will accept this point. Rural hackney licences are necessary because of market failure. This issue is being teased out at present and is a requirement in rural Ireland. I emphasise its purpose is not to displace taxis but simply to ensure there is some form of provision in place to enable communities in rural areas to go about their business, socialise, etc., in a safe environment. Everyone is aware of anecdotes concerning arrangements in different parishes whereby people get lifts, only for tenners to be left on seats and so on. This simply is unacceptable and one is merely waiting for an accident to happen at which point someone will ask why the Government did not do something about it. This is the reality, as I live in rural Ireland and know it well. There also is the issue of community cars but I accept Deputy Pringle's point in particular regarding the subject of hackneys, examining that space and ascertaining how closely together they can be brought. However, I believe this must happen, as rural Ireland is suffering detrimentally and this measure, together with a realigned rural transport scheme, can really help in this regard. This is the reason I am making so many efforts on this issue.

A personal ambition is to ensure the issue regarding those with a requirement for wheelchair taxis is dealt with completely and rapidly. It is unacceptable for people to receive subsidised licences on the basis they will offer this service, only to see them pulling up at Dublin Airport with a load of golf clubs in the back. This is not acceptable. I accept the cost of and specification for these cars are way too high and I am working on a separate measure to bring down those specifications. Moreover, it is intended to create a centralised system whereby those who need such services will be able to place an order. As a result, in the case of someone who refuses to meet the passenger or accept the booking on a number of occasions, there will be a consequence for that person. I believe this to be appropriate and that all Members share my views in that regard.

I will conclude by making the point that over the past year and a half or more, I know of no other Minister who has met industry figures as often as have I. I met them before and as part of the review. I received deputations, accepted submissions and have met groups throughout the country. Moreover, I continue to get representations and I deal with them as much as I can. However, there is a point at which one must make decisions. The industry is extremely fragmented and there are many disparate groups. One probably cannot put two different groups or even two different taxi drivers into a room and get them to agree on things because they simply will not. All Members present are aware of that and are all smiling and laughing because it is the truth. That said, I acknowledge they have genuine concerns. They have been represented and I have taken on each issue and digested it to come out with the best solution possible within the legal parameters that exist. I hope Members respect the point that legal parameters are in place and my Department is bringing forth a combination of this legislation with the regulatory changes, comprising more than 46 measures, that are being put in place in tandem with this Bill. Collectively, this will lead to a better and far superior industry in the coming years. I look forward to the Committee Stage debate later, when I intend to introduce amendments. I also will consider all amendments tabled by any Members at that Stage. I thank Deputies for their time.

  Question put and agreed to.

Taxi Regulation Bill 2012 [Seanad]: Referral to Select Committee

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Alan Kelly): Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly I move:

  Question put and agreed to.

  The Dáil adjourned at 9.55 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Thursday, 4 July 2013.


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