Belfast Telegraph

Taxi drivers feel ‘ignored’ by city

by Natalie Irvine

Frustrated public hire taxi drivers are set to continue their demonstrations in the city-centre following their mass rally to Stormont last Thursday (November 18) — protesting on a range of issues they claim are “seriously damaging their daily trade”.

Yesterday, (Tuesday, November 23), Sean Beckett, chairperson of The Public Hire Coalition, (the official group that speaks on behalf of public hire taxi drivers), told the Community Telegraph: “Things are going from bad to worse for those of us working in the public hire taxi trade.

“Private hire taxi companies continue to pick people illegally off the street and the laws dealing with issues are not being enforced effectively — even though we have presented evidence to the correct authorities to deal with this, we have been told by official enforcers the only way to prosecute is if they act covertly as members of the public and are picked up in this way — video evidence is not enough.

“We have serious concerns about the number of rank spaces in Belfast too — there are only 87 rank spaces in the city, that is not enough for 600 taxis. And we have to remember that not all of these spaces are workable, many drivers sit for ages before they pick up a fare. It’s difficult when you get private hire companies handing out pre-booking business cards — people don’t even have to phone up to book a private taxi now, it’s getting out of hand and we are losing a considerable amount of business as a result.

“We have had four taxi drivers fined this week alone for waiting outside Central station in the bus lane but there is nowhere else for them to go.

“Every other major city, London, Edinburgh, supports their public hire taxi trade, but we feel ignored here.”

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