A body representing taxi drivers has suggested allowing an Uber-style transport regime would put passengers at danger of assault, rape or even murder at the hand of unlicensed drivers.
The Oireachtas Transport Committee is meeting this morning to discuss rural transport solutions, amid suggestions that an app-based car sharing system could alleviate isolation in country towns, villages and hinterlands.
However, the National Private Hire Taxi Association has come out strongly against the proposal, and claimed an "uber style" transport service “would be detrimental and dangerous to both rural communities as well as taxi drivers”.
“Allow "uber style" into any part of Ireland and it will grow and destroy the livelihood of 21,000 taxi families both urban and rural relying on this industry to make a living,” Jim Waldron of the NPHTA told the committee this morning.
“Now we have vested interest groups suggesting we dumb down the taxi industry and allow anyone drives for hire to benefit their interests.
“If they are allowed do so, what do you expect will happen?
“We predict people coming from the pub will be met with people who are deemed unsuitable by an Garda Siochana, cars that are not suitable or roadworthy, and situations like a babysitter taking children out of bed along for the ride to get an extra couple of euros, or maybe someone with their pets in the car or someone already drunk.
“To allow uber style you will invite drivers who are so desperate they will break any or all rules for profit as is already reported is happening worldwide.
“We read almost daily about confrontation assaults, rapes and even murders by so-called uber drivers or what we would class as unregulated taxi services,” Mr Waldron said.
“Our understanding of rural Ireland is one of the communities and neighbourly compassion. Its when people help each other and hopefully that will continue to do so.
"If Mrs or Mr Murphy want to visit the local surgery and the health service HSE can't or won't provide transport, neighbours will and do so.
“There will never be a taxi for everyone in the audience or ambulance, post office, Guard, bus or train whether it be rural life or city life,” he said.