Bid to crack down on rogue drivers with taxi stickers
TAXIS are to get branded stickers on the doors in a cutprice version of the uniformly coloured cab fleets found in London and New York.
The Government has decided it would be too expensive to require Irish taxis to all be the same colour, but will require semi-permanent "taxi" signs to be stuck to the doors of all cabs to prevent licences being switched between different cars.
Drivers are opposed to the move, saying it will cost them up to €250 each and encourage more burglary of cabs.
Junior Transport Minister Alan Kelly yesterday welcomed the new branding developed by the National Transport Authority, which will be phased in from January on all licence renewals.
"New York has yellow taxis, London has the famous black cabs. These approaches would be far too expensive for Irish taxi drivers, but to ensure the people who operate in the sector are accountable for their vehicles, we have opted for semi-permanent branding," he said.
It was a significant reform that would encourage a more professional taxi sector and make it harder for rogue drivers to pass licences from car to car, he said.
But the National Transport Assembly of Ireland (NTAI) said that the cost was way too high for an already struggling sector.
"It's nonsense what they are doing. We've heard estimates of €150 to €250, even though if we were left to source them ourselves we could get them for €10," said NTAI taxi spokesman Tony Rowe.
Taxis were already targeted by thieves looking for petty cash but while drivers could remove roofplates when they weren't in use to decrease visibility, this wouldn't be possible with the new signs, he said.
If the authorities insisted on forcing this move through they should use some of the millions gathered from taxi licence fees to pay for it, Mr Rowe said.
But Mr Kelly said that official suppliers would be licensed to print and fit the signs, ensuring competition.
"Taxi drivers will be able to shop around and achieve the lowest possible price for operators," he said.
The Government is also planning a new Taxi Regulation Act, which will set new age limits for vehicles, ban tinted windows in new taxis, allow online checks to make sure the licensed driver is in the vehicle and prevent the transfer of licences.