Business

Sunday 25 August 2019

Taxi group calls for pick-up and luggage charges to be introduced at Dublin Airport

An empty taxi rank at Dublin Airport
An empty taxi rank at Dublin Airport
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Pick-up and luggage charges should be reintroduced at Dublin Airport to encourage more taxi drivers to provide services at the gateway, according to the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Federation.

The call by the federation’s president, Joe Herron, comes as Dublin Airport launches a consultation process aimed at improving the frequently criticised taxi service there.

Mr Herron said that any shortages of taxis at the airport, particularly during the evenings, are usually because drivers can get more fares working in the city centre.

“If there is work in the city centre, it is not advantageous to travel out to the airport,” said Mr Herron.

He said that a pick-up fee could be €2 per passenger, for instance, and that a luggage fee could be introduced at 50 cent per bag, for example.

A €1.50 airport pick-up charge and 70 cent luggage fee were abolished by the then taxi regulator in 2006, sparking protests by taxi drivers.

A spokesman for Dublin Airport, which is operated by the semi-State DAA, said it would not pre-judge the outcome of the consultation process.

He said the consultation is inviting views from stakeholders including licence holders, taxi firms, transport and tourism bodies, business groups, consumer representatives, disability groups and other interested users.

“There are some sectoral issues that are affecting the provision of taxis generally at peak times in Dublin and these are also likely to be discussed within the remit of the consultation,” he added.

Services such as a premium product, ride-sharing, and even a minimum fare are all possible outcomes from the consultation.

“We want to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to deliver an improvement in the overall taxi product at the airport,” said the spokesman.

Dublin Airport has experienced a surge in passenger numbers in recent years. Last year, 31.5 million passengers used the gateway, compared to just under 30 million in 2017.

Mr Herron pointed out that on top of their normal running costs – which the National Transport Authority reckons are about €23,500 a year for an experienced taxi driver in a standard vehicle – taxi drivers must pay €440 a year to secure a permit to operate at Dublin Airport.

There are currently about 1,450 permit holders at Dublin Airport. On a typical day, between 800 and 900 permit holders operate at the airport, making about 4,000 pick-ups.

But there’s been an overall slump in the total number of taxi drivers operating in the country.

According to the National Transport Authority, at the end of January 2019 there were 26,462 licensed SPSV (Small Public Service Vehicles) drivers in Ireland. The vast majority drive taxis, but the figure also includes hackney cab and limousine drivers. The figure compares to a peak of more than 47,000 in 2009. There were 18,561 licensed SPSVs at the end January, according to the NTA. That compares to 27,429 in 2008.

A survey of passengers carried out by the DAA has found that not being able to pay by credit or debit card is the single biggest gripe among taxi passengers at Dublin Airport. Queues and poor taxi journey experiences are next highest on the list.

Since 2016, the Dublin Airport spokesman said that it has only issued permit holders for the airport to drivers who have multi-seat vehicles and who accept credit card payments.

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