THE taxi industry will be obsolete in five years, according to a spokesperson for the Cork Taxi Council. He said that one-in-ten drivers have left the industry in the last twelve months.
Bobby Lynch said he knows of at least 35 drivers who have given up the profession in Cork.
Mr Lynch said the drivers are disgruntled, as they are no longer allowed to sell on their plate, and because insurance costs and regulation are increasing.
He said his own insurance had more than doubled in the last two years, from €900 to €2,050.
Mr Lynch told the Evening Echo that despite the sharp increase in insurance, his rate would be considered good within the industry. Some drivers pay between €3,500 and €7,000.
“The insurance is ridiculous. The companies are picking figures out of their heads.
“The costs are crippling people. I know a lot of drivers who are just working to pay off their monthly repayments on their car. No-one is earning a living.”
Mr Lynch said that taxi drivers are being let down by the Government.
“It’s a disgrace: people bought into this industry for a better living, a better life, and the industry is gone. We are trying to save it, but we are getting no help from anyone,” he said.
As well as this, Mr Lynch said drivers are failing their SPSV test, which regulates the health and safety requirements of a public vehicle, for as little as an out-of-date bandage. “We have to have a first aid kit in the boot, with plasters and bandages and the plasters and bandages have to be in-date. How can a plaster go out of date, when it is still sealed?”
Mr Lynch also said taxi drivers are required to carry a fire extinguisher, although they are not required to be trained to use this equipment.
And rickshaws, which are unregulated, are taking all the short fares and destroying the taxi industry, Mr Lynch said. “The National Transport Authority is doing nothing about the rickshaws; Minister Ross is doing nothing. There are a lot of us who are just sick of it.”