By Kieran O’Mahony and Emma Connolly
PLANS for rural taxis, or ‘Ruxis’, as proposed by Junior Minister Jim Daly, have been slammed by a West Cork councillor, who said it could destroy the livelihoods of hackney owners.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) made the comment at meeting of the local authority after he raised a motion calling for hackney owners to be able to employ drivers who have a PCV (Passenger Carrying Vehicle) licence Category D1 or Category D Licence. These drivers can drive buses for bus companies with seats between nine and 16 but not hackneys.
‘Since this extraordinary proposal for a uber-style taxi was made, hackney owners who I’ve spoken to are cross and disgusted with this proposal. They fear for their livelihoods,’ said Cllr Collins.
‘What is wrong is that hackney companies throughout the country can’t get drivers and the simple reason is that the test for a licence is totally ridiculous.’
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said it’s easier to pass a University exam than pass the hackney exam.
County Mayor Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) described the questions as ‘absolute bananas’.
Cllr Collins added: ‘In this day and age with sat navs nearly in all cars or phones these questions are irrelevant,’ he said.
He pointed out that Minister Daly was recently quoted as saying that hackneys are like ‘hens teeth’ across West Cork, but insisted there were plenty of hackneys but the problem is that the owners can’t get drivers.
He added that his proposal would solve a lot of issues regarding the lack of hackneys and maybe give some light to people living in rural areas.
‘But if an Uber-type service was taken up it would kill the hackney service,’ he added.
Meanwhile, motorists who are thinking about earning extra money through the rural taxi initiative are advised to be wary of their insurance cover in the event of a claim.
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) is in support of the idea and is urging government to support the idea.
Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says there is a crisis in rural communities that requires immediate action and said the Ruxi would go some way to solving the problem this.
However, the Insurance Federation of Ireland (IFI) has urged some caution and said Ruxi drivers must ensure they have adequate cover in the case of a claim being taken.
‘We would advise anyone considering using their vehicle as a taxi to talk to their insurer first,’ the IFI said in a statment. It continued: ‘Their insurer will advise on the use and what it means for their insurance cover.
‘In addition, as the legislation currently stands, a Small Public Service Vehicle licence is required to drive a taxi/hackney.
‘If a vehicle is used as a taxi and this use is not declared to an insurer, it may be a consideration in terms of the settlement of a claim’
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