Public Transport Junior Minister Alan Kelly has encouraged Tipperary community groups in isolated areas to start applying for the newly introduced local area hackney licence or rural hackney licence.
The licence, which is designed to facilitate low-cost entry into the taxi sector for isolated rural areas, will cost just €70 between the vehicle and drivers’ licence and will be introduced on a pilot basis.
Applications can now be made to the National Transport Authority (NTA) but areas or community groups seeking one will have to demonstrate a transport deficit for their area. An information note has been published on the website of the NTA.
Applicants for the licence will be required to be sanctioned by a local business or community group and need to demonstrate that their area has a deficit of public transport and taxi services. This will require the approval of the local authority.
Welcoming the move, Deputy Kelly said it was crucial to come up with creative solutions to improve transport connections in rural areas.
“Access to transport is a major problem in rural Ireland and we needed to think creatively about how to solve it. We are all only too well aware of many isolated people in rural communities that are unable to access their local services. The taxi regulation system has not been designed for isolated areas of rural Ireland and this is a way it may do so,” said the Junior Minister.
The recommendation for a low-cost hackney licence for rural areas came from the Government’s taxi regulation review, chaired by Deputy Kelly.
“What I hope is that the rural transport groups, working with the local authorities, will be able to identify the area’s most in need of access to transport and licenses can be granted on that basis. It will be done on a pilot basis initially. The aim is to provide people with social mobility and give people a way of accessing shops, health services and local events,” he said.