The Taxi Regulation Directorate has begun a clampdown on unlicensed taxi companies operating in Ireland.
It is likely there will be prosecutions against unlicensed taxi dispatch operators over the coming months following the deployment of extra staff to the directorate’s compliance section.
The total number of taxi dispatch operators working in the country is not known, but at most fewer than half are licensed.
Figures released by the office show that 135 taxi dispatch operators have so far been granted operating licences.
A further 161 operators are in the process of applying for licensing, and 44 have had their applications rejected because of failure to complete a skills test.
One operator surrendered his licence and ceased trading, the directorate said.
Another operator, in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, was convicted earlier this year for failure to hold a dispatch licence.
The directorate does not know how many taxi dispatch operators are working. In Dublin alone, however, 146 taxi businesses are listed in telephone directories, though in some cases one dispatch operator may be operating several differently-named businesses.
Since the end of 2009, taxi dispatch operators have been required to be licensed.
When applying for a licence, a dispatch operator must show full record-keeping of all drivers and vehicles associated with it.
A member of its staff must complete a skills test; staff must be trained to a standard; and a complaints procedure must be in place. The operator must also supply a tax clearance certificate.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the directorate said “a number of dispatch operators were being investigated” by its compliance team and were likely to be assessed for prosecution.
“In addition, as a result of additional resources being dedicated to the inspection of dispatch operators, it is likely that further files will be prepared for prosecution over the next few months,” she said.
The spokeswoman also said there was no reason why the 44 dispatch operators rejected for failure to meet the skills test requirement could not be licensed once they had successfully completed the test.
Asked the identity of the dispatch operator who was prosecuted and of those whose licence applications had been rejected, the spokeswoman said the directorate did not identify individual companies. The organisation’s online register identifies those that have been licensed.
She also said the directorate did not know how many people were operating as dispatch operators because “they may have been in business before our regulations were put in place”.
When the Taxi Regulator, now subsumed into the National Transport Authority and called the Taxi Regulation Directorate, was established it initially prioritised driver and vehicle licensing.
It has begun to examine dispatch operators more closely only in the last couple of years
(The Irish Times, 15th August 2011)