Belfast Telegraph

Belfast taxi drivers' anger at U-turn on meter plan

By Jonny Bell

Belfast taxi drivers have accused a Stormont department of "moving the goalposts" and putting them out of pocket over planned changes to the industry.

Last year, the now Department for Infrastructure introduced a raft of new regulations for taxi drivers, including the introduction of taxi meters and printers in all vehicles, which would be inspected, tested and sealed by officials.

However, Belfast Public Hire Taxis, which represents almost 500 black hackney cab drivers accused the department of backtracking on one of the meters they say it had originally approved for use - putting hard-pressed drivers out of pocket.

Gerry Maxwell of Belfast Public Hire Taxis said many drivers couldn't believe the change.

"It costs £300 for a meter, £35 to fit and another £180 to £200 for a printer - so you are out £500 and then there is the time off the road to have the work done," he said.

"We were told we could use a Cygnus MR 400 meter and that they were happy with that and then we were told it had to be changed to a different one.

"We have not had a problem with following the guidelines and doing what is needed - but when they change the goalposts it is just not fair.

"Some of our drivers work out that they are paid £3.80 an hour.

"It took them that long to come up with the new legislation, you'd think they could have stuck with the plans for a bit longer," he said.

There was no one from the Department of Infrastructure available for comment.

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