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Over 2,000 applications for new taxi licences

Source: Irish Times, Saturday, January 6, 2001
Author: By Frank McNally

More than 2,000 people have applied for new taxi licences in Dublin since deregulation, and 450 new plates have already been issued, according to Dublin Corporation.

A spokeswoman said the latest issues have boosted taxi numbers in the city to 2,720. However, taxi-drivers' representatives question the figures, claiming that many of the "new" licences have been issued in respect of taxis already on the streets.

The National Taxi Drivers' Union said Mr Robert Molloy's prediction of 700 more taxis by Christmas had fallen far short of the reality.

A union spokesman, Mr Vincent Kearns, said the official figures were exaggerated by the number of people who secured 15,000 plates for wheelchair-accessible taxis last year and who were now due to pay the second instalment, but had instead been encouraged to apply for the new 100 wheelchair plates.

He put the net figure for new taxis since deregulation at about 350.

Mr Kearns added that the take-up of wheelchair-accessible licences was "very minimal", although the special plates cost only 100.

According to Dublin Corporation, about 165 of the 2,080 plate applications received so far are for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

"People will have to accept the reality that there will not be substantially greater numbers of wheelchair-accessible taxis on the streets," Mr Kearns said.

The president of the Irish Taxi Drivers' Federation, Mr John Ussher, said the new system was "already starting to bite". His members were reporting that it was now difficult to get on some of the ranks, a consequence of the Government's decision to proceed with increasing taxi numbers before providing extra rank space.

Mr Ussher added that after the Christmas rush his members were only now in a position to assess the effect on taxis of the extended Nitelink service, "but it's bound to reduce demand".

However, Mr Kearns criticised the service as totally inadequate. "We called for the Nitelink in the first place because taxis are supposed to complement the official public transport system, not replace it, and the lack of a proper bus service was adding to our problems. But the Nitelink is only a token gesture."

Members of the ITDU will meet at the National Stadium in Dublin on Monday night to review developments since deregulation.



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