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Uber Belfast: New law won't ease burden on Saturday night wait for a taxi

By Kieran Harte, Uber

Published 18/01/2016

Kieran Harte.
Kieran Harte.

Having spent the last few months living and working in Belfast I'm very aware that trying to get a car late on a Friday night is not easy.

As the bars empty, people spill onto the streets and join an ever-increasing queue to try and get home. To put it simply, there is too much demand and not enough supply.

This is something the Executive and the Assembly recognise, and something they are trying to fix. In fact, as far back as 2002 the Department of the Environment announced a review of taxi legislation in Northern Ireland - and it’s still going.

Whilst the idea to allow every taxi and minicab to pick up off the streets during weekend hours is well intentioned, it won’t get people home any sooner. 

The real problem is that there are too few cars for all the people that want them.  And getting more cars on the road will be hampered by new rules that require drivers to pay for out-dated technology like meters and receipt printers.

These costs keep the drivers Belfast desperately needs to meet demand at weekends off the city’s streets.

Receipt printers might have seemed the technology of the future in 2008, but they certainly don’t in 2016.

Now Uber’s technology delivers receipts instantly to passenger’s phones with full GPS route information and an opportunity to provide instant feedback.

Meters, printers and roof signs are all unnecessary in the 21st century. With Uber you can get a picture of your driver, their car and contact details on the app as soon as you make your booking.

But these proposals will cost drivers money and that will be passed onto to customers in higher fares.

Technology has come a long way since 2008. Just last week the Department of Environment has said they agree.

In fact, they've already announced a new review into taxis!  But this won’t be complete for years.

In the meantime, the Assembly should put a stop to proposals that will cost drivers money, raise prices for consumers and make it harder for new technology to thrive in Belfast.

Kieran Harte, general manager, Uber Belfast

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