By Suzanne Pender
A CREATIVE new pilot scheme has been announced which will see a localised, specially licensed hackney service operating in Ballon and Carlow.
The scheme is part of a national move to give people living in rural locations better transport options.
The National Local Hackney Pilot, launched today by minister for transport Eamon Ryan with the National Transport Authority (NTA), is a grant-aided programme designed to encourage new part-time local hackney services in communities that could not support a full-time taxi or hackney operation.
All drivers will be licensed, insured and garda-vetted, and will be able to pick people up from their doors and drop them to where they want to go, providing that essential ‘last mile’ connection for people living in more isolated or rural areas.
“Improving connectivity across rural Ireland is a key priority for the Greens in government, not just in towns but in the areas around those towns, where so many people live and farm,” said minister Malcolm Noonan.
“This pilot is a welcome development that responds in a really practical way to the reality of Irish rural living.
“In tandem with the increase in local link bus services, it’s creating additional transport options to connect people from their doors to their local towns, healthcare centres, post offices, or onto other transport stops and hubs. It has the potential to offer a safe, reliable and much-needed transport service, and create a part-time employment opportunity for people living locally,” he said.
Each successful applicant for the local hackney licence may be granted €6,000 as a subsidy to ordinary fares’ income, to run the service. This special limited local licence is designed to ensure that existing taxi or hackney services already operating and providing an appropriate service in any area are not displaced.
The local hackney, which exclusively operates on a pre-booked basis, may only pick up passengers within a designated area of seven to ten kilometre from a chosen point, normally the residence of the licensed driver.
Applications to take part in the one-year pilot programme can be made at localhackney.ie. The final acceptance date for applications is Tuesday 28 February.