Taxi drivers are relieved but others are disappointed
There was a mixed reaction in Tipperary today to the news that the controversial ride-sharing company Uber will not be allowed to operate in Ireland using private cars as it does in other countries.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has told the San Francisco-based company its model is not appropriate for Ireland.
Currently Irish customers can only book a taxi or limousine through the Uber app rather than a private car.
Taxi drivers in Tipperary welcomed the news as the Uber service threatened their livelihoods but younger people who would have availed of the service were disappointed. Students in particular felt they would have benefited from far cheaper transport cost had the scheme been permitted in Ireland.
They also felt it would cut delays waiting for taxis when pubs and nightclubs closed. One described how she had to wait three hours for a taxi in one Co. Tipperary town and felt Uber would have been a greater option.
Uber links passengers with private car owners through an app. It has been described as a “disruptive technology” as it threatens the traditional model of taxi and limousine hire.
In a letter issued through a Freedom of Information request from RTÉ, the NTA said the proposal for a pilot scheme in Limerick that would allow private car users offer their services to passengers through Uber was “undesirable”.
The authority told Uber it was not legal to operate an unlicensed ride sharing serving in Ireland.
It went further to state that, even if such a service was legal, it would not support the Uber proposal. The NTA said operating an unregulated regime would undermine the regulated taxi sector.
The authority told Uber: “Notwithstanding the above legislative position, it should be stated that the NTA is unsupportive of this proposal.
“Operating parallel regulated and non regulated regimes, even on a pilot basis is undesirable in our view and can only serve to undermine the regulated transport system . . . the issue of unfair competition arises. This is not an approach which could be supported by the NTA.”
Although it is legal in countries such as the United States and Britain for Uber to operate through private car owners, many European countries have banned the company from operating such a service.
France, Spain and Belgium are among the European countries that have banned Uber using private drivers over fears over how it would disrupt the regulated taxi industry.