Donohoe meets Uber to discuss 'taxi' service
A controversial cheap alternative to taxis, allowing private drivers to offer paid-for passenger rides, is being examined by transport officials, it was learned yesterday.
The UberPop service which started in San Francisco now operates in around a dozen cities around Europe.
It allows anyone with a standard driving licence to pick up passengers and charge them, with a percentage fee going to transport company Uber.
A spokesman for Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed he met representatives of Uber on October 21 last to discuss a range of issues, including the ride-sharing service.
"The minister and officials undertook to examine the issue further, bearing in mind the legislative and regulatory issues that may arise."
He said: "In relation to UberPop, the minister indicated that such a service would not at present comply with our primary legislation, specifically the Taxi Regulation Act 2013, and that unlike some other countries, Ireland's taxi and hackney market is very much an open market."
He added: "At the meeting, Uber briefed the minister on the development of its smartphone applications, the establishment of its 'centre of excellence' in Limerick with the creation of 300 jobs and Uber's future plans, including the development of its ride-sharing service.
"The minister welcomed the investment that Uber has made in Limerick and noted that Uber's existing services in Ireland fully meet the legal and licensing requirements of the National Transport Authority (NTA)."
A spokesman for Uber said yesterday: "Uber met with the Department of Transport and spoke about a number of different Uber products. Ride-sharing was part of this conversation - however, we currently have no plans to launch UberPop in Ireland."
Jerry Brennan, former general secretary of the National Taxi Association, said the service would currently not be legal and would run contrary to the highly-regulated taxi industry. "This should not be introduced here," he said.
"I cannot see how it could be regulated to a degree that is safe for passengers," he added.