Minister’s new taxi sector action plan welcomed by Derry MLA

SDLP Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin has welcomed confirmation of a Taxi Action Plan from Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon to benefit taxi drivers.

By Brendan McDaid
Monday, 13th September 2021, 4:20 pm
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.
Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

Minister Mallon has announced new steps to support the taxi industry as they rebuild following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Plans include wiping DVA fees for new taxi drivers in 2021/22, a taxi fare review with a consultation in the coming days and the wiping of DVA fees for one taxi meter test required to implement a fare change.

Ms McLaughlin said: “We have all seen the impact the pandemic has had on the taxi industry and it is clear that our Minister has listened to the needs of drivers and worked with the industry to find a solution. Taxi drivers are an important part of life here, people rely on them to get to school and work, to important appointments, to visit friends and family and to socialise. They will play a key role as we look forward to rebuilding our economy and society.”

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Making the announcement, the Minister said: “I continue to meet and listen carefully to the taxi industry and I am very well aware of the impact of Covid on their business. That is why I provided £16.7million of support to existing drivers from the two financial support schemes and regulatory support that I put in place last year. I welcome the fact that business has picked up considerably with the lifting of restrictions, however I recognise that there is currently a shortage of drivers and the sector has asked for my support in encouraging new drivers to join the industry.

“In order to assist the industry to rebuild and to encourage new drivers to enter the business, I am proposing that my Department will provide financial support to cover the fees for new drivers who successfully obtain their taxi driver and vehicle licences from April 21 to March 22. This support from my Department would mean a saving of over £370 for every new driver who successfully passes all the necessary tests to become part of the taxi industry and ensure that I am protecting customers through the provision of a safe taxi service.

“I am also announcing a targeted consultation on a taxi fares review which would address another concern of the industry around profitability and future viability, given that a fares review was last implemented in 2011. In doing so, my Department will consult with the Consumer Council to understand their views and ensure that the interests of customers are fully considered. Should a taxi fares review be implemented following that consultation, I would intend to provide further support to the industry by waiving the fee for the necessary taxi meter test, so that the taxi industry can receive the full benefit of any change to taxi fares.

“I intend to follow all necessary processes to put these support measures in place, including public expenditure processes, ensuring that I have the necessary budget to make this happen and also proposing the required changes to regulations.

“I want to continue to help the industry during these difficult times. These measures would go some way to address the issues raised by the taxi industry to assist it with recovery from the pandemic and to importantly provide support to attract new drivers to the industry.”