Roy March 21st, 2013
Myself and John Mc Grath (John M from the forum) had a meeting this morning with Minister Alan Kelly and his special advisor, James Mc Grath from 10:45 until 12am, we would like both to thank the minister and his advisor for being so generous with their time.
Here are the topics covered and myself and Johns minutes of the meeting:
With regard to the regulation whereby “the authority may attach a condition to the licence restricting the number of hours that, or the times when, the person may drive a Taxi after having been driving a vehicle or working a specified number of hours while engaged in that other occupation”.
We wondered if this could impact on the hours a Taxi driver who didn’t have another job might be allowed work, the Minister did not envisage such a situation, saying that the section allowed for limits to be applied only to those who had other employment outside of Taxi driving.
With regard to the proposed new Roof Sign;
The Minister said his will definitely go ahead over the next two years, a “digitised” roof sign is necessary to ensure drivers stick to the areas for which they are licensed. This new roof sign should be linked directly to the meter.
As requested by TTnH, there will be a large increase in the number of enforcers, “we will be sick of seeing them”, this team will continue to be under the auspices of the NTA.
WATs and Accessibility;
WAT owners must provide a service for those requiring accessible Taxis, there will be “knocks on the doors” of those who refuse jobs and fail to provide adequate cover.
The section will be further amended, the result will hopefully facilitate those who have existing arrangements to share plates and where the family depend on the Taxi for survival, however it is hoped to deter ambulance chasers.
Not yet in the Bill, however it will be amended to prohibit the transfer of incorporated plates, while it is proving difficult, it is near completion.
Are on the way in areas where a Taxi service is not adequately provided, there are just some insurance difficulties to overcome, existing Taxi drivers will not be allowed to take up a Rural hack and also rent their Taxi plate, it wil be be one or the other.
Those with certain criminal convictions in any jurisdiction will lose their licence.
After the Bill goes through and the 47 Review proposals are enacted, it is envisaged that the NTA could draw up a long term blue print for the future of the Taxi industry, hopefully allowing Taxi drivers to plan for their future, knowing what lies ahead.
The Minister has recently spent some time in New York and visited the Taxi and Limousine commission there, he commented on how the problems that Taxi drivers have there are identical to the ones he hears from drivers here, he showed us a copy of a proclamation were Taxi drivers were honoured and received a proclamation from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, letting them know how truly appreciated they were by proclaiming March 29, in the City of New York as “Taxi Driver Recognition Day”, he didn’t see why Ireland shouldn’t have one.
Overall it was a very positive meeting we were left convinced the Minister has nothing but the best interests of Taxi drivers and our passengers in mind.
Other areas where no change is envisaged, no clarification required or the bill will remain the same were briefly discussed but not included above.
Oh! One other thing I remember ….. an off the cuff remark that Non National Taxi drivers should be represented on the TAC.
Another afterthought: Those covered by the Good Friday agreement are not exempt from the removal of the serious criminal element from the fleet.
Oh yeah … The opinion voiced was that the fare increase was rejected because drivers were worried that it might cause passengers to stop using the service.