A taxi fare increase of more than 8 per cent, which comes into force today has been described as a “nightmare” for tourists and the general public by Fine Gael spokeswoman on tourism Olivia Mitchell.
She said the 8.3 per cent rise, announced by the taxi regulator in September, was inappropriate in the current economic climate.
The cost of hailing a cab will rise to €4.10 and €4.45 at the premium rate, which applies from 8pm to 8am each day and all day on Sunday and bank holidays. The 8.3 per cent increase also applies to the per-kilometre rate.
Taxis hired between 8pm on Christmas Eve and 8am on St Stephen’s Day and from 8pm on New Year’s Eve to 8am on New Year’s Day will also be charged at the premium rate.
The increase means that the cost of a typical 8km journey during the day would rise from €10.45 to €11.31, and at night or other premium times would rise from €12.85 to €13.90. Taxi regulator Kathleen Doyle has also increased the soiling charges by €15 to €140. Taxi fares were last increased in September 2006.
A spokesman for Ms Doyle said the fares were the maximum price and drivers could offer a reduced fare. However, all meters would have to be recalibrated to reflect the new fares, regardless of the intention to offer discounts, he said. Ms Mitchell yesterday called for the decision to be reversed.
“The regulator and drivers must surely appreciate just how inappropriate a price rise is in the current economic climate,” she said.
The rise would also harm drivers’ incomes, she said.
“The price hike will not benefit taxi drivers. Taxis are a largely discretionary spend and, as people tighten their belts, longer queues of taxis hoping for business are the only possible outcome. Already drivers complain that they cannot make a living, but higher fares are not the solution.”
The worldwide downturn meant Ireland had to remain competitive to retain its share of tourism, she said.
“This price rise, together with a new departure tax, is sending out a completely wrong message to potential visitors.”