An automated queuing system is to be introduced in a Cork harbour town for taxis, along with new designated taxi ranks and bylaws to govern their use.
The county council has drawn up the plans in Cobh after being approached by the National Transport Authority about the current system for taxi operations in the town, which did not suit taxi drivers, or the Port of Cork, which was concerned about the traffic situation when cruise liners were disembarking passengers.
Peter O’Donoghue, a senior engineer in the council’s roads department, said discussions had also been held with the Taxi Regulator and local gardaí before the plans were finalised, which he outlined to councillors at a meeting in Cobh.
He said the council plans to create a parking bay directly outside the entrance to the railway station which will cater for three taxis, and a far larger one, capable of holding 20 taxis, but further to the west near Whitepoint.
When taxis are hailed outside the railway station, an automated signal will be transmitted to the Whitepoint ranks which will show the first in line that a vacancy has arisen.
Mr O’Donoghue said he believed that three spaces were adequate outside the railway station at one time because of the queuing mechanism nearby.
Taxis will no longer be able to pull up at the so-called Five Foot Way — at the town’s deep water quay — because it was deemed that they presented a safety risk to cruise passengers and the hundreds of onlookers who regularly pack the area to get a glimpse of the liners.
Meanwhile, in order to aid better flow of traffic a new, slightly elevated and painted roundabout will be installed close to the Cobh Heritage Centre.
Mr O’Donoghue said local taxi drivers were in favour of all the new proposals and added that he hoped the new bays and automated queuing system would be in place before Christmas.
He said taxi bylaws would then have to be drawn up, but did not expect these to be in place until the start of the new year’s cruise liner season.
Independent councillor Claire Cullinane said she welcomed the plans. However, she said the local traffic warden should also be employed at weekends to clamp down on illegal parking which arises when cruise liners are in port.
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