CORK County Council has agreed to write to the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan requesting that he gives the green light for Uber to start recruiting private drivers in Ireland.
Uber was launched in Cork last November when it became the third city in Ireland where a taxi can now be booked through the app.
While in other countries Uber recruits private drivers to the platform, in Ireland only those with a full taxi licence are permitted to take passengers using the app.
It was unanimously agreed by councillors at this week’s full council meeting after the issue was raised by the Fianna Fáil councillor Sean O’Donovan.
Cllr O’Donovan said there is a ‘shortage’ of taxi drivers in Cork.
“In Ireland both urban and rural communities are built on social interactions. The majority of taxi drivers choose not to operate at night. The impact of Covid has seen many taxi drivers drive into the sunset reducing the numbers of providers. New entrants can’t see fit to pay €6,300 for a new taxi license,” he said.
Cllr O’Donovan said the hospitality sector is suffering as a result.
“It is time for Minister Ryan to wake up,” said Cllr O’Donovan.
“The Minister for the Environment Eamonn Ryan seems more worried about the bicycles in Dublin 4 rather than rural Ireland, but it is now time to deal with reality.
“Uber drivers are solving transport problems in 72 countries and 10,500 cities. Uber is an opportunity to breathe oxygen into the social fabric of rural Ireland and give people the opportunity of a lift home,” he added.
The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Danny Collins said he was in full agreement with the proposal.
Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Carroll said the lack of taxi drivers is ‘crippling’ tourism all over Cork County. “The situation is diabolical in rural Ireland. We seem to have more concern about the Luas, the Dart, and taxis in Dublin. We must deal with reality here. Rural Ireland has no means of transport. I can’t see why it won’t work in this country and I support it wholeheartedly.
“It is crippling tourism all over Cork County. People come on holidays to West Cork to socialise but they have no way of going home after a night out. We are going to have to wake up,” he added.
Bobby Lynch, chairman of the Cork Taxi Council told The Echo they would be ‘fully’ against the concept of Uber recruiting private drivers to the platform.
“The National Transport Authority (NTA) did away with the six-mile radius which means that taxi drivers from Bandon, Macroom and Skibbereen can come to Cork city and work away at weekends because of the increased footfall, but that leaves a shortage of taxi drivers in those towns. If the six-mile radius was still there they wouldn’t be able to do that,” he added.