Sunday 24 February 2019

'Uber-style taxis' plan to combat isolation in rural areas

Jim Daly: People are choosing to stay at home and are not socialising. Photo: Arthur Carron
Jim Daly: People are choosing to stay at home and are not socialising. Photo: Arthur Carron

Cormac McQuinn and Philip Ryan

Rural Ireland would see Uber-style taxis to help combat social isolation under proposals put forward by Junior Minister Jim Daly.

The Fine Gael TD has suggested such a service, dubbed 'Ruxi', should be allowed due to a shortage of taxi and hackney cabs in rural areas.

Independent Alliance Transport Minister Shane Ross's road safety crackdown has sparked a backlash from some in Fine Gael amid concern at its impact on rural communities. Mr Daly said he sent Mr Ross his taxi proposals and they were passed on to the National Transport Authority.

Mr Daly said he expects to meet the NTA to discuss the idea in the coming weeks.

In other countries the Uber app allows drivers to use their private cars to carry paying passengers. Under Irish regulations the service is limited to licensed taxis. Mr Daly is proposing that drivers be permitted to use private cars and charge passengers in rural areas with small populations.

The drivers would have to be Garda-vetted, have NCT-certified cars and be taking journeys of less than 15km from their home town.

Mr Daly said the Government has "taken strides in making our roads a safer place" but people are finding it difficult to get to and from social events. "People are choosing to stay at home instead of socialising and this is not good for their mental well-being," he added. Mr Daly's 'Ruxi' proposals are to be discussed at tomorrow's Fine Gael Parliamentary Party meeting.

Irish Independent

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