BOTH the night-time economy and tourist industry could receive a major boost if the taxi app Uber was finally allowed to operate in Ireland, according to one West Cork councillor.
At this week’s meeting of the local authority, Cllr Sean O’Donovan (FF) raised the issue of the lack of taxis and hackney services across the county at night, and called on the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to allow Uber operate in Ireland.
‘Social interaction is the lifeblood of our people’s existence, but now people are choosing not to visit the local pub or go out for a meal because they simply have no way home as the majority of taxi drivers are choosing not to work by night,’ said Cllr O’Donovan.
‘People not being able to get a spin home from Bandon during the weekend has led to pub closures and job losses in the hospitality industry,’ he claimed.
Cllr O’Donovan gave several examples of his constituents who have stopped going out as they are unable to secure a taxi to get them home.
‘We need to introduce Uber urgently before it is too late, before inaction kills our night-time economy, and before our tourism industry is cut adrift,’ he added.
He highlighted the irony that Uber employs 400 people in Limerick at their centre of excellence but yet is not allowed to operate its service in Ireland.
‘Uber drivers are solving transport problems in 72 countries and 10,500 cities,’ he said.
‘Minister Ryan seems to be more worried about magic bicycles above in Dublin 4. We are on a road to nowhere unless he lets Uber operate in Ireland,’ he added.
County mayor Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) said he was recently in America and saw how Uber operates there.
He said it’s the only way forward, while Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said the situation ‘has gone diabolical’ in relation to taxis in rural Ireland and said the application process to secure even a hackney licence is also too stringent and turning people off.
‘It’s crippling tourism from Bantry to Clonakilty and especially for those staying in Airbnbs outside towns who have no way home, as there are no taxis at all,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Caroline Cronin (FG) highlighted a recent exclusive story in The Southern Star which revealed that gardaí were targeting illegal taxi operators in West Cork.
‘This shows that there is a demand for taxis and hackneys from the public and Uber would certainly be a solution. This needs to be fast-tracked,’ said Cllr Cronin.