20 May 2019
By Bryan Smyth
A taxi service that caters specifically for rural Ireland is a now a step closer, a Fine Gael Minister has said.
Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, has received confirmation from the National Transport Authority (NTA) CEO Anne Graham that she is willing to amend the application criteria for rural hackney licences to simplify the process in the hope of increasing the uptake.
She has also confirmed the NTA is going to provide grant-aid to a number of hackney services in areas that have limited or no current service, to assist with insurance costs.
The ‘Local Link’ network of offices will be deployed to administer the pilot and a call for applications will issue in June.
Minister Daly said: “While I very much welcome this positive development and appreciate the NTA taking my concerns on board, I believe we will eventually need to do more if we are serious about combatting rural isolation and the mental well-being of older people in our rural communities.
“The only way this can be achieved as by introducing a policy shift that will allow for a vastly increased number of public service vehicles on the road via an Uber style system specifically tailored for rural Ireland,” said Minister Daly.
The proposed rural taxi service has been named ‘Ruxi’.
“I will continue to work with the NTA to address this issue and I appreciate confirmation of the proposed pilot scheme very much. It represents a small but valuable and practical initial step towards transport equalisation.
“The pilot will allow for further evaluation and discussions in the year ahead in the hope of making more hackney transport available to rural Ireland dwellers at any time of the day or night. I will be monitoring its progress closely and expect that this progress to be swift, properly resourced and effective.”