Transport for Ireland have introduced a new subsidised local hackney carriage service to be provided in over 20 rural locations where no current full-time service exists.
The Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, alongside the National Transport Authority (NTA) launched a one year pilot programme for a localised, specially licenced hackney service to help improve transport choices for people living in rural locations across the country.
The Local Hackney Pilot is a grant aided programme, which is designed to encourage new part-time local hackney services to operate in communities which could not support a full time taxi or hackney operation.
The pilot programme will roll out across 21 rural areas, stretching from Donegal to Cork, for one year. All drivers will be licenced, insured and Garda vetted and will be able to pick people up from their doors to drop them to where they want to go, providing that essential “last mile” connection for people living in more isolated and rural areas.
Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, said: “One of our key priorities in transport is to improve connectivity across rural Ireland in particular, not just in towns, but in the areas around those towns where so many people live and farm. This pilot responds to the reality of rural life in Ireland, in a creative and local-based way, connecting people from their doors to local towns, healthcare centres, the post-offices, or onto other transport stops and hubs.
“With this new pilot service, rural communities across Ireland will now be given the opportunity to have a part time local area hackney service available to them. We will monitor it over the coming year and learn from it so that we can roll it out across many other areas. This Pilot is an important tenet of the Government’s National Sustainable Mobility Plan 2022-2025 and a key deliverable under Our Rural Future 2021-2025.”
Each successful applicant for the local hackney licence may be granted €6,000 as a subsidy to ordinary fares income, to run the service. This grant is designed to contribute towards the fixed costs associated with providing this service. It is payable by NTA over one year, in equal monthly instalments, where the service provider can show that the services are being used and the local hackney service is of benefit to the community.
This special limited local licence is designed to ensure that existing taxi or hackney services already operating and providing appropriate service in any area are not displaced.
The local hackney, which exclusively operates on a pre-booked basis, may only pick up passengers within a designated area of 7 to 10km from a chosen point, normally the residence of the licensed driver. The drop off point has no restrictions, with trips to healthcare facilities and transport hubs further afield anticipated.
Anne Graham, CEO of the NTA, said: “NTA is proud to launch this Pilot programme, which will help people in rural communities across Ireland, giving them access to a safe, reliable, part-time local hackney service in their area. I would encourage anyone with a suitable and appropriately insured vehicle, who has an interest in assisting their community to submit an application for this pilot programme.”
Each local hackney service will be partnered with a local NTA Compliance Officer who will be a regular point of contact for any licensing or compliance queries.
The final acceptance date for applications for the Pilot is 28 February 2023. However, each application will be assessed at the time of receipt. If the applicant in each area does not complete the licence process, NTA will assess the next applicant on the list.
Two separate licences are legally required to operate a local area hackney; a local area hackney vehicle licence issued by NTA for suitable, appropriately insured vehicles and a local area hackney driver licence issued by An Garda Síochana for a driver who has been successfully Garda vetted.