Mayo's taxi drivers cannot continue to be left behind - Conway-Walsh
THE 227 taxi drivers in Mayo have been severely hit by Covid-19.
Despite being an essential service for communities, many are now struggling to make ends meet, according to Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway-Walsh.
Speaking ahead of a Private Member Motion, Deputy Conway-Walsh stated: “The 227 taxi drivers across Mayo are struggling. According to evidence given to the Oireachtas Covid Committee, 23% of drivers in the industry are aged over 66 and are not eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
“This meant that many older drivers were forced back to work early during the pandemic, despite the advice being for older people to reduce their close contacts at that time.
“The collapse of international tourism and of the night-time economy has reduced business to a trickle. However, the government simply don't recognise this.
“The government has also failed to see the potential to solve the shortage of school transport by turning to taxi drivers for help to cover in the short term. We have experienced drivers without sufficient work, while the government scratches its head over how to get more drivers for school transport.”
She continued: “Today, thousands of drivers are protesting highlighting the huge frustration felt by the industry and calling on the government to put proper supports in place for them.
“The taxi drivers' calls aren't just for financial assistance, but for regulatory reforms that will help them weather this economic downturn.
“This would include a pause on the issuing of new licences until normal levels of economic activity return, reform of the Taxi Advisory Committee, continued access to bus lanes and a temporary two-year extension to the rule that requires taxis to be less than 10 years old.
Sinn Féin is putting a motion to the Dáil calling on the government to have meaningful engagement with driver representatives and introduce these reforms as a way to give taxi drivers a break and to keep our taxis on the road.
“Taxis provide an essential service in our transport network. Many people with disabilities rely on taxis daily and taxi drivers should be recognised by this government for the contribution they make,” she said.