Catherine Murphy TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats and spokesperson on Transport, today called for immediate supports to be put in place to assist those working in the taxi and small public service vehicle sector.

Deputy Murphy said:

“It is vital that the Government takes immediate action to show that it is listening to the very real concerns of those working in the taxi, limousine and hackney business. When Covid-19 is eventually behind us, it will be important that we come out of it with a sector that is still intact.

“The livelihood of taxi drivers has been devastated by Covid-19. There are far too many of them seeking a living from an economy that is not properly functioning, with no night-time entertainment or sporting events and a tourism sector that has pretty much shut down.

“Some drivers want to get out of the business but they have loans and other outlays that don’t allow them to do that so it’s a catch 22 situation. Many are in an age range where they are putting themselves at risk by mixing too closely with other people while working.

“Many are not receiving any additional payment over and above the State pension. That is a really difficult circle for them to square and they cannot do it on their own – they need Government support.

“We need a new forum to take stock of the challenges faced by those working in the taxi industry and look at ways people can make an income from it.

“In addition, a temporary moratorium on the issuing of taxi licences could be brought in for a specified period of time. This is something that could be done quickly and would mean we are not making a bad situation worse.

“Even though taxi drivers have suffered a huge loss of income, the cost of paying for their car, insurance and maintenance does not stop. The 10-year lifespan of a taxi should be extended as 2020 has been a complete write-off. Other obligations in terms of vehicle maintenance and licence costs also need to be looked at.

“There is sense of disbelief when people realise that many drivers over the age of 66 are required to go to work with no income coming in, despite having considerable outlays.

“This is not the time for the Government to take a hands-off approach. We are going to need an economy that includes a functioning transport system with small public service vehicles. Taxi drivers will play a vital part in the recovery of our tourism and entertainment sectors.”

September 16, 2020

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