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Parliamentary questions
12 February 2008
WRITTEN QUESTION by Kathy Sinnott (IND/DEM) to the Commission

 Subject: Unjust Effects of 2003 Ireland Taxi Deregulation Act

I have recently been made aware of the adverse effects of the Ireland Taxi Deregulation Act of 2003. This Act abolished the limit on the number of taxi licenses to be issued in Ireland. Defenders of the Act would say it has boosted the number of taxis and thus increased convenience for taxi customers. However, the negative impact of this Act on legitimate taxi drivers must not be ignored.

Legitimate taxi drivers are those who give quality taxi service as their main source of income; often, as their only source of income. Most of these drivers have been in the taxi business for years, and thus have crucial experience and knowledge. Before taxis were deregulated, a taxi license could cost up to EUR 60 000. To make the sacrifice of purchasing a license, a potential driver had to be truly committed.

Now, the taxi market is flooded with drivers who purchase a taxi license for cheap. These drivers do not use taxis to support themselves or their families. They work part time, during only the peak hours. They desire only to make easy money, not to provide a service to the public.

In Cork, the number of taxi drivers has skyrocketed from around 200, which was suitable for the needs of that area, to over 2 000 since deregulation. This number seems particularly ridiculous in light of the fact that Cork only has 46 legal taxi parking spaces.

Because of the exorbitant competition, legitimate taxi drivers have been forced down to unacceptably low rates. With these inadequate wages, they can no longer work for a standard amount of time. Just to make ends meet, legitimate taxi drivers must work long, obscure, and inconvenient hours. Thus, deregulation has not only unjustly impeded on their income, but on their social and family lives.

In light of how legitimate taxi drivers are suffering, does the Commission consider the deregulation of taxis to be in line with current EU legislation?

Further, does the Commission believe that the laissez-faire climate of deregulation provides reasonable competition for these independent, self-employed traders?

 OJ C 291, 13/11/2008
Last updated: 21 February 2008Legal notice