Taxi drivers have called for the implementation of a promised 5% fare increase as a fare review is carried out.
The rising cost of fuel and the increased use of contactless payments are among the reasons cited by players in the transport sector.
Jim Waldron of the National Private Hire & Taxi Association told Newstalk Breakfast that drivers are currently operating at a loss.
“They should go up…the obvious one is that fuel costs have gone up so much over the last year or so.”
“But this rate increase was approved in 2019 and it suggested we had lost 5% over the previous two years.”
“The cost of running a taxi had increased by 5%, and this calculation did not include the huge increase in contactless payments. Every time a driver makes a transaction with contactless payment, he loses up to 4.8% on this transaction,” Jim mentioned.
Mr Waldron explained that the fare increase was initially delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but believes things have changed “slightly” since then.
“The NTA (National Transport Authority) has decided that it is inappropriate to impose [a fare increase] at the start of the Covid pandemic.
“Taxi drivers are back to work in many cases right now and they’re there to provide a service, and they can’t do it at a loss – and that’s what we’re doing right now” .
“Our members are asking us to call for the implementation of the tariff increase that has been approved.”
While the National Transport Authority (NTA) is set to conduct a further review, it will take approximately six months.
“So we’re saying approve that in the meantime, pay for the meters to be recalibrated and put it on the road and help the taxi drivers.”
Jim said if the review indicates there is no reason to raise rates, so be it.
“Let’s do the review, but in the meantime we’re falling behind and need help.”
Jim said he disagreed that “everyone” is “strapped for money right now”.
“Some areas of the community have benefited from Covid, some people no longer have to commute to work, so they don’t have taxi fares at the moment.”
“I won’t say they benefited from it, but they weren’t impacted the way some other sectors of the industry were impacted.”
“We are controlled by the government, or the NTA, on what we can charge – whereas other people in other industries can change their rates,” he said, explaining that taxis cannot. set their own prices.
“Or sometimes they charge extra money, they can all do it but we can’t.”
“We need the government to approve the 5%.”