It's still a 90-minute wait for a cab despite deregulation
Independent 20 June 2001 Grainne Cunningham
DESPITE taxi deregulation, the service remains "at best uneven" and is "remarkably poor" late on weekend nights, a new report has revealed. Waiting times for a taxi in Dublin city centre on Saturday night are still up to 90 minutes, according to a survey commissioned by the National Taxi Drivers Union (NTDU).
The survey, which was carried out by Trinity College's Centre for Urban and Regional Studies at Dublin taxi ranks last April, also revealed that only about 10pc of taxis are wheelchair accessible.
Since the service was deregulated by Minister of State for the Environment Bobby Molloy in November, the number of taxis has increased from 2,724 to 6,528.
However, the survey showed that the quality of vehicles is uneven with almost half being over five-years-old. About 50 of the cabs date from the mid to late '80s.
The low proportion of wheelchair accessible vehicles is reflected in an irregular and unreliable service with disabled customers having to wait on average 45 minutes for a taxi, the survey found. Other passengers are served in 11 minutes on average.
Late on Saturday night/Sunday morning, many passengers have to queue for over 90 minutes to get a cab although immediately before 1am, passengers waited for just one minute.
The survey also revealed that it is very difficult to book taxis for northside and southside addresses during rush hour midweek and on Friday.
On the southside, providers generally could not provide a cab, while on the northside, wait times were estimated at 20-45 minutes.
In general, those queueing at the St Stephen's Green rank midweek and on Fridays were better served than those waiting at Abbey Street.
Study author Michael Punch said the findings represented just a "snapshot" of the service and further research was required.
NTDU Vice President Vinnie Kearns said there was too much reliance on taxis to fill the gaps in Dublin's sub-standard public transport system, particularly late at night on weekends.
He said that before deregulation, cars were worked by day and night drivers but now it was usually single drivers who had the choice when and how long they wanted to work.
"There is no incentive for taxi drivers to work late," Mr Kearns said, explaining that the minimal surcharge does not significantly boost income.
Mr Kearns said part-timers had no commitment to the industry. He said there was also a danger that 'double-jobbers' who drove a taxi after their day's work could fall asleep behind the wheel.
The Union also claimed there was some evidence of people applying for taxi plates simply to use the bus lanes.
Mr Kearns called on the Minister to establish a taxi forum to oversee the industry.
Weekend 90 minute waiting time at Dublin city taxi ranks
A survey commissioned by the National Taxi Drivers' Union and published this morning points out that waiting time in Dublin city centre is still up to 90 minutes at taxi ranks on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Only about 10% of taxis are wheelchair accessible.
Vincent Kearns, of the National Taxi Drivers' Union, discusses the survey - RTE