Alliance MLA Andrew Muir has backed plans at Stormont to support the Northern Ireland taxi industry and encourage more drivers into the sector.
The Party’s Infrastructure Spokesperson was speaking during a debate in the Assembly on Tuesday, aiming to halt the decline in numbers of taxi drivers currently operating across Northern Ireland.
In the debate MLA Muir spoke of his appreciation for taxi drivers throughout the pandemic who have provided frontline help to the more vulnerable sections of community. Muir also urged Ministers to quickly address concerns over the dwindling numbers of taxi drivers to allow tourism and hospitality to bounce back to full capacity.
Muir said: “One of the few silver linings of this whole pandemic has been a much greater appreciation across society for key workers. Throughout the pandemic, taxi drivers have been on the frontline – bringing health and care workers to work, helping older people to get to where they need to get to, much of this during a time where people were being told to avoid public transport if at all possible.
“As we begin to recover from the pandemic and look for positive economic signs, it is becoming even clearer that the taxi industry has been hit hard. If we want people to return to our high streets, and particularly if we want to support tourism and hospitality as they gradually return to full capacity, then we need a thriving taxi industry in order to do that.
“We need to take action to stop the steady decline in local drivers. This issue should not be used as apolitical football, but one that sees a united voice in tackling a review of the current system and better support for both drivers and operators. I urge the Ministers to come together quickly to address these concerns.
“We are entering a new era, one that could see a green and equitable recovery from COVID-19, something Alliance has committed to in our Green New Deal, with the taxi sector a key part of sustainable travel solutions needed today.”