Taxi fares to rise by 11pc in major industry shake-up
Irish Independent 11-04-2001 Bernie O'Toole
DUBLIN'S taxi users are facing a rise of almost 11pc in fares as part of a major overhaul of cab-charges in the capital.
Under proposals unveiled yesterday, taxi passengers would see the minimum fare they pay rise to £2.10 from £1.90, with the basic hiring charge up to £1.55 from £1.40.
The mileage-rate charged by taxi drivers would rise from 90p to £1.05 per mile, with a higher time-charge of 55p also suggested, up from 45p for three minutes.
But in a controversial move likely to anger many taxi drivers, luggage and animal charges are set to be scrapped.
Taxi-driver representatives have already threatened industrial action if the long-standing luggage charge of 40p per item is dropped.
The charge for hiring a taxi from the rank at Dublin airport is to decrease from £1.30 to £1.20 because "meter constraints" mean £1.20 is actually charged.
The average 10.8pc increase in fares was recommended yesterday to the four Dublin local authorities by their own joint taxi/hackney committee. It is now up to local authorities to sanction the increases and, if they do, the higher fares would come into effect in June.
Director of traffic Owen Keegan told the committee the basis of the proposals was to simplify the charges from a customer-information and protection point of view. He was convinced that the way the price structure was being changed was "uniquely favourable" to the taxi industry.
The new charges are based on proposals by Goodbody economic consultants, who found that costs to the taxi industry have risen by 10.1pc between late 1997 and early this year. Fares have not increased since January 1998.
Goodbody's report backs a rise in the "waiting time" charge from its present £9 to £11, significantly lower than the £15 which the National Taxi Drivers Union had been seeking.
The committee heard that around 2,800 new licences have been issued since deregulation came into force last November, bringing to more than 5,500 the number of taxis in the Dublin area.
Of the new applications 1,046 are wheelchair-accessible licences. Around 60 new applications for licences are now being received each week. The number of hackney licences in the Dublin taximeter area currently stands at 4,568, with up to ten hackney licences issued per week.
To date, £7.6m in rebates has been paid out to taxi drivers in respect of higher fees paid for wheelchair-accessible taxi licences obtained from Dublin Corporation between 1997 and the introduction of the new regulations.
The fee for an ordinary taxi licence is now £5,000, while the fee for a wheelchair-accessible licence is £100.