Tuesday, 7 February 2023
The National Transport Authority manages the Rural Transport Programme on behalf of the Department of Transport. The key priorities of the Programme continue to include addressing rural social exclusion and the integration of rural transport services with other public transport services. Whilst NTA has improved public transport service provision significantly in both rural and urban areas, they have recognised that current public bus transport cannot meet the demands for travel for many people in rural Ireland, either because it is not available at all or it is not available at the time needed.
To address this need in rural areas the NTA has developed the Local Hackney Pilot, localhackney.ie, a grant aided pilot programme which aims to assist in the provision of part-time local hackney services in designated rural areas which cannot support a full time taxi or hackney operation. One critical feature of this special limited licence is that no Local Hackney service may replace or displace any standard taxi or hackney service already operating and providing services in any area. This Pilot is an important tenet of the Government’s “National Sustainable Mobility Policy Action Plan 2022-2025” and a key deliverable under “Our Rural Future 2021-2025”.
The key element of this service is that it will benefit the community by providing licenced, insured, economic transport by Garda vetted drivers in local areas. A Local Hackney may only pick up passengers within a designated area of about 7 - 10km from a chosen point, normally the residence of the licenced driver. The drop off point has no restrictions, with trips to healthcare facilities and transport hubs further afield anticipated. However, the Local Hackney may not pick up a new fare at the drop off point or any other point outside its designated area, which is depicted on its vehicle licence and must always be carried as part of the In Vehicle Information.
Like any hackney service, a Local Hackney may only be operated on a pre-booked basis and any fare will be agreed in advance of the hire by the driver and the hirer, who is normally the passenger. The Local Hackney Pilot grant aid is designed to contribute towards the fixed costs associated with providing this part-time service. Up to €6,000 will be payable by NTA over one year, in equal monthly instalments, where the service provider can show that the services are being used and that the Local Hackney is of benefit to the community. NTA will provide sample Journey Record Forms for monthly return and will engage in spot checks in this regard. Each Local Hackney service will also be partnered with a local NTA Compliance Officer who will be a regular point of contact for any licensing or compliance queries.
A number of appropriate areas were shortlisted following a robust assessment process led by NTA as Taxi Regulator, with significant support from Connecting Ireland, TFI Local Link and local community personnel. This Pilot, localhackney.ie, will enable NTA to test this operational model thoroughly before considering making it available county-wide and it will also allow them to better estimate the cost of delivering this type of grant aid. This has to be very carefully managed so that it doesn’t undermine existing licenced taxi and hackney operators providing services in rural areas.
For this pilot, the Taxi Regulation division of NTA partnered with each Local Link office -"a community group with a charitable tax status” to propose the appropriate rural area, satisfying that legislative requirement.
The requisite analysis of need document, which would normally fall to an applicant to prepare in conjunction with Local Authority staff, for this Pilot was developed as a once off project by the NTA SPSV and Connecting Ireland Teams, in conjunction with TFI Local Link offices, to reduce the burden on applicants. An analysis of need document for a local hackney service in MILFORD was completed by the NTA and approved by Donegal County Council. The NTA launched the Localhackney.ie Pilot with Minister Ryan on Friday 6th January 2023.
The government grant of €6,000 is to subsidise the operating cost. The successful applicant must hold a full driving licence for Ireland, and have a suitable four door car with a recent NCT and be tax clear with Revenue.
Applications must be received by 28th February 2023.
Interested applicants can find out more information by contacting the information line on 0818 064 000 or clickingHERE