By Tom Tuite
A veteran taxi driver has been cleared of not bringing passengers on the shortest journey from Dublin Airport to Temple Bar after demonstrating to a court that the longer route he picked was cheaper.
Liam Perkins (pictured), who has been driving taxis for 25 years, was prosecuted by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and appeared at Dublin District Court on charge under the Taxi Regulation Act for not taking the shortest route where practicable. Mr Perkins, from Maddoxland, Riverstown, Dundalk, Co Louth, pleaded not guilty.
During the hearing, Judge John Brennan heard the NTA had allegations that some taxis coming from Dublin Airport were failing to take the shortest route.
NTA inspector Anthony Carey said that in conjunction with gardaí, a checkpoint was set up at the R139 on the morning of June 20 last year. Mr Perkins' taxi was stopped.
He had three passengers who had just arrived from Australia and were going to the Temple Bar Hotel. One of the group indicated he had not been in Ireland for 15 years and he did not know the shortest route.
The court heard the driver, Mr Perkins, was questioned and told the NTA inspector the reason he failed to take the shortest route was because “it is quicker this way”.
The inspector told the court the shortest route was by heading southbound but the driver had gone east on the R139 toward the coast, Clarehall, Donaghmede or Clontarf. The court heard the R139 was at the end of the M50 and also led to Malahide and Howth.
The defence counsel argued that shortest route could also mean time.
In evidence, Mr Perkins explained that that he didn’t go southbound after he heard weather and traffic reports on the radio. There had been “torrential rain” that morning which had caused a traffic jam at O’Connell Street, he said.
Work on the Luas line in the city centre had also caused delays, he said. He did not use the Dublin Port tunnel because of the fees.
His route was to firstly go on the R139 and then he planned an alternative route into the city centre, he said.
After he spoke to the NTA inspector he took the shortest route, 9.4km, to Temple Bar and it cost €25.80. He had a copy of the receipt which was signed by the passenger.
He told the court that after he dropped off the group he came back to the Airport area and did the run again, this time going on the R139 and along the route he had originally intended.
He produced another printout of a receipt with details of the second journey.
Judge Brennan noted it was 11.2km, however the fare was €22.20, some €3.50 cheaper even though it was a longer route.
His barrister submitted that his client was a taxi driver 25 years and abhorred the suggestion that he would take advantage of passengers in circumstances where the route he planned was cheaper.
Judge Brennan dismissed the case.