The Deputy may wish to be aware that most of the recommendations from the Advisory Committee’s report of July 2020 have been completed. Key recommendations implemented include my Department providing funding to the NTA to enable it to waive its standard annual SPSV (vehicle) licence renewal fees in 2021, and the NTA extending vehicle age limits to the end of 2021. The €15 million expansion of the eSPSV scheme should also assist drivers making the switch to electric vehicles by doubling the support available to those with older vehicles.
The Advisory Committee has a statutory duty to advise the Minister and the National Transport Authority (NTA) on issues relevant to small public service vehicles (SPSVs) and their drivers. There are currently five vacancies on the Advisory Committee some of which, as the Deputy may be aware, have been carried since a competition in 2019 organised by the Public Appointments Service failed to attract a sufficient number of qualified applicants.
The Advisory Committee has played an important role in providing advice on how best to support the SPSV industry through this difficult time. A real strength of the Advisory Committee is that it enjoys a broad membership with members representing driver interests, dispatch operators, passenger interests, and official stakeholders such as Local Government and An Garda Síochána.
I have consulted the NTA and asked them to work with driver representatives and consider the best approach to filling these vacancies to ensure that the Advisory Committee features strong and effective representation for taxi drivers, limousine chauffeurs, and hackney drivers. This includes consideration of how best to ensure appropriate urban and rural driver representation. I look forward to filling the outstanding vacancies following the outcome of this work.