Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has decided to bring forward a range of measures to address a shortage of taxi drivers.
The Minister will legislate for a 7.6% increase in the maximum taxi fare and will introduce a support package for new drivers. This follows a targeted consultation in September with the industry and representative consumer bodies.
Minister Mallon said:
“I thank everyone who provided their views to the recent consultation on this issue. I have carefully considered those responses and while I acknowledge the range of views presented on the way forward, I do think intervention is needed now to address the shortage of drivers especially as we enter one of the busiest periods of the year for the industry.
"Taking account of all the views expressed and the recent rise of fuel and other running costs I therefore plan to implement a 7.6% increase in the maximum fare, as soon as possible and I will initiate a further fare review in Spring 2022, based on updated data. Subject to the legislative processes, and in order to provide additional support to the industry, I will also provide for a free taximeter test for drivers and operators who apply between the operational date and the end of February 2022.”
Confirming support for drivers wishing to enter the industry, the Minister said:
“To help build capacity in the industry, I will provide financial support to cover the DVA fees for new drivers who successfully obtain their taxi driver and vehicle licences from April 21 to March 22. This will mean a saving of £372 for every new driver who successfully passes all the necessary tests to become part of the taxi industry. Completion of this process ensures that customers continue to be protected through the provision of a safe taxi service.
"I have listened to all the views expressed and recognise the significant challenges that taxi-drivers have encountered over the last two years dealing with the Covid19 pandemic and now rising costs. I hope these measures and those already introduced will assist the industry in the time ahead.”
Full details of the processes to be followed to access this support will be provided to the industry shortly.
Notes to editors:
- On 17 September 2021, the Department launched a targeted 4 week consultation on the Minister’s proposal for a 7.6% increase in the maximum taxi fare tariff across Northern Ireland. This followed the Minister’s announcement on 10 September of a Taxi Action Plan which proposed further support for the taxi industry.
- The consultation was issued to over 6,000 taxi drivers and to representative groups. The Department also engaged directly with the Consumer Council to ascertain the potential impact on members of the public.
- The consultation generated 196 responses. These included responses submitted by the Consumer Council, the Inclusive Mobility and Transport Advisory Committee (IMTAC), the larger taxi companies and the Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce Ltd as well as a wide range of other businesses and individuals.
- The Department will seek to ensure that the Regulations are operational, as soon as possible, later in November 2021.
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