People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann has said he fears ordinary tax-drivers feel voiceless during the most “rapid and fundamental change” in the sector since the 1960s.
Mr McCann, who said he doesn’t drive and as such is a frequent taxi user, said it was important drivers don’t feel left out of the process.
The Foyle MLA was speaking during a briefing of the Stormont Infrastructure Committee just prior to the Christmas recess.
“I use taxis a lot - in Belfast, Derry and elsewhere - because I do not drive a car, and they are not all rural, as you say; people in Omagh do not consider themselves rural, although some of the rest of us might,” said Mr McCann.
“My impression from talking to taxi drivers is that they do not feel represented.
“Big changes are going on in the taxi sector that are more rapid and fundamental than at any time for a number of decades.
“Quite a few ordinary taxi drivers feel entirely left out of this process, the planning for it and the organisation for the future,” the Foyle MLA stated.
Christopher McCausland, a member of the Northern Ireland Taxi Group, which is made up of various taxi associations across the North, including the North West, said the industry was doing its best to ensure as wide a representation as possible.
He particularly hailed the work of the North West Taxi Proprietors in trying to extend its reach in the Derry hinterland.
“We have tried to bring as many people as possible into the Northern Ireland Taxi Group,” Mr McCausland told the Committee.
“We now represent more than 50 per cent of the total licensed taxi drivers in the country,” he said.
“We work very closely with the North West Taxi Proprietors, and Eamonn [O’Donnell] down there is trying to bring a lot of the other country associations into ours,” Mr McCausland told the Committee.