Taxi drivers

Wanted – taxi drivers for immediate hire

Greg Whyte of Lynx Taxi.

By Tom Gillespie

One of Connaught’s biggest taxi operators has sent out an SOS – for more drivers.

Castlebar’s Lynx Taxi could immediately hire at least 10 new drivers – if they could get them.

But insuring a public service vehicle (PSV) like a taxi is prohibitively expensive and can cost up to €16,000 a year.

Lynx Taxi boss Greg Whyte is at his wit’s end to expand the business, but can’t find the drivers he needs.

Mr Whyte told me: “We are begging for new drivers, men and women. We have advertised drivers. The problem they face is the cost of insurance.

“You can go and get a PSV license after you have completed your course. But the insurance costs are crippling and nobody is doing anything about it.

“I don’t understand how it happens. If a person who drives all his life decides to change careers to become a taxi driver, he ends up with a huge insurance bill of up to €16,000 a year. That’s a prank and a lucrative racket.

“Our government has to help because we won’t have taxis anymore because we have taxi drivers who have died and others who have retired and there is no one to take over.”

He added: “If we want the economy to work well and grow we need taxi drivers to provide a service. The Dublin Taxi Federation are generally good but I can’t believe they aren’t shouting nor about excessive insurance costs.”

Castlebar, he said, is a thriving town, but people can’t get home after a night out because of a lack of taxis.

“Something needs to be done to alleviate this,” he stressed. “I could easily take 10 drivers right now if I could get them.

“I have underdrivers and I work with them. My business partner, Michael Mavromatis, and I are on the phone all the time looking for new drivers. But we just can’t get them.

“We are tearing our hair out trying to get people to earn a living. We have work for them. We need the government to do something about skyrocketing insurance costs.”

Any potential drivers interested in taxi work should contact Greg on (086) 1016482.

Greg and Michael started the business in 2003 with four drivers and now they have a good fleet of drivers.

Lynx Taxi has an office at the IPI Centre, Breaffy Road, Castlebar, and drivers are contacted via a radio communication system.

Greg added: “We employ three people in the office who provide a 24 hour service, but sometimes this is not possible due to a lack of drivers. I start at 4am just to cover the Mayo University Hospital and I work until 5:30 pm the next day, five days a week.

“We are very lucky to have developed a fantastic business. We get a lot of HSE work as we have wheelchair accessible cars and six and eight seater vehicles.”

In Castlebar, Lynx Taxi has free phones in Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Breaffy Houses Hotel and Mayo University Hospital.

Greg added: “Unfortunately we’ve lost pilots over the years – Lynx founding member Martin Ward and Billy Madigan. They were a great loss to us and both were great characters. RIP.”

Looking back on his career, Greg told me: “I went to London in 1994 with my cousin Martin Fitzpatrick. We ran a pub in North London for two years. Our plan was to go to America. I Didn’t have an Irish passport.There was no need for one so to go to England I got my first passport in London from the Irish Embassy.

“Our plan was to open our own pub in America, but we were so welcomed into the North London pub that we kept saying we were going to give it another year and that was it.”

Greg continued: “Returning to Castlebar, we opened a pub in Linenhall Street called ‘Cheers’, which we ran for a few years. But the call was to go overseas again.

“I moved back to London and ended up buying my own pub lease for nine years.

“With Nial Garavan, we were deeply involved in the Castlebar Men’s Association in London with people like Tony Lavelle and Sean Corley who saw us as the next generation to take over the association.”

* Lynx Taxi can be contacted on (094) 9034700 or (086) 11018373.