Minister for State Jim Daly TD has called for the introduction of an ‘Uber-style’ service in towns with a population under 5,000 that would operate on less stringent regulations than currently apply to taxis and hackneys.
The car would need a valid NCT, the driver would need to be Garda-vetted and the service would be authorised to serve within a radius of 15km of the town centre.
“It could be our saviour,” VFI President Padraic McGann told Drinks Industry Ireland, “We’re looking at this as a way of alleviating the problem where publicans could purchase a seven-seater and transport their customers home.”
VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben says there’s a crisis in rural communities that requires immediate action.
“We need a solution that works for rural Ireland,” he said, “The problem with transport is decades-old but since the introduction of new drink-driving legislation last October the public are suffering from a lack of clarity on what these changes mean, consequently people are staying at home for fear of checkpoints.
“The fabric of rural life is being torn apart, but all we’ve had so far by way of a solution is the Minister for Transport’s woefully inadequate Local Link night service introduced as a pilot scheme. Recent reports reveal cancelled services while remaining routes are wholly unsuitable for people not living within walking distance of the route.”
The VFI says that Jim Daly’s idea would go some way to solving the problem of rural isolation.
“I’m encouraged to see Minister Daly is meeting the National Transport Authority on 9th February to present his ‘Ruxi’ idea,” concluded Padraic Cribben, “Fianna Fail has also voiced its support saying an Uber-style service could bring about a resurgence in social life.
“Tinkering around the edges won’t work, as proved by the Local Link pilot scheme. We need sustainable solutions that work for rural communities.
“What we have had so far is pious platitudes from a political elite that has no understanding of rural life.”