Written Answers. - Taxi Regulations.

Pat Rabbitte

Question:

108 Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Transport the role of the proposed taxi regulator's office; when it is expected that the office will be established, having regard to comments from a taxi drivers' union that the taxi service was now out of control and that some taxis and drivers now represented a danger to the public; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2748/03]

An Agreed Programme for Government sets out commitments in relation to taxi services including the appointment of a regulator for the future regulation of licensing, standards and the quality of service. On 19 November 2002 the Government approved the establishment, initially on a non-statutory basis, of the office of the national taxi regulator. It is envisaged that the office of the national taxi regulator will be established on a non-statutory basis as soon as possible in 2003 pending the drawing up of formal legislative proposals that I will bring to Government in the near future. Preparation of these legislative proposals is well advanced in my Department.

Subject to the enactment of legislation, it is envisaged that the office of the regulator will have a national focus and will have full effective control over the promotion of a professional, efficient and customer-friendly service by all small public service vehicles, including taxis, hackneys and limousines. This will include the overall application of standards for drivers, licence holders and for vehicles. It is also envisaged that the functions of the office of the regulator will include: the design and administration of a scheme to implement the recommendations of the taxi hardship panel in accordance with Government decisions on the matter; the setting of national taxi licence and related fees; the setting of standards for drivers, driver training, requirements for entry; the licensing of small public service vehicle drivers following consultation with An Garda Síochána; the setting of standards, guidelines and parameters for (a) the designation and alteration of taximeter areas, (b) the setting of maximum taxi fares, and (c) the provision and designation of taxi ranks and associated bye-laws; the setting of standards for taxi, hackney and limousine vehicles and the implementation of the proposed wheelchair accessible taxi policy; and the setting of standards for customer service and for meeting the needs of people with disabilities.