Taxi drivers ‘leaving in droves’ as industry hit hard by pandemic

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Many drivers have been off the roads since March and there is still little work for them.

THE TAXI INDUSTRY has been hit hard by the pandemic, drivers say, with many deciding to look for employment elsewhere after months with little or no work.

Tony Rowe, taxi driver and chairman of the National Transport Assembly, told TheJournal.ie that drivers are “leaving the industry in droves”.

“There has probably been an over 70% fall-off in demand for taxis, there’s still very little work even though some things are opened back up,” he said.

“Many drivers have been off since March, some of them are coming back now because the Covid payment has been reduced but there’s not enough jobs to make enough to live on. A lot of drivers I talk to now have young families and mortgages and they’ve started looking for work elsewhere.”

He said drivers need greater supports and that the government should be paying for the installation of plastic screens and for other personal protective equipment like masks and hand sanitising stations in their cars.

“Taxis are public service vehicles just like buses. There were drivers who didn’t stop working all the way through and they were the ones on the frontline getting doctors and nurses into work at the height of it. Drivers bring patients to their hospital appointments and deliver blood to the hospitals. They need to be protected.”

Rowe said drivers are also concerned about proposals submitted by Dublin County Council recently to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, which would see taxis banned from some of the city’s bus lanes. The Irish Times reported last month that the minister and two Green Party councillors attended a meeting with senior council officials about the proposals.

Rowe said these types of measures would “put more drivers out of work” and he has been in touch with the Green Party to express his concern about the council’s submission.

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“We’ve already had a large number of ranks taken out of the city and now they want to stop the taxis using bus lanes. Drivers are wasting between five and nine litres of fuel a day because they’re driving around, with no ranks in busy areas to park up at where they’d be able to pick up work. If the Greens want to clean up the air in the city, there’s a way to reduce the fumes from taxis. Now they want to make the situation worse by keeping us out of the bus lanes.”

Drivers will be staging a drive-through protest to highlight their financial difficulties and express their opposition to these types of measures on 15 September at 10am at Conyngham Road beside the Phoenix Park.

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