Taxi drivers have gone on strike until 1.45 pm today in protest over reforms that would open access to the ranks.
Transport Minister Eddie Noel says that the first he heard about the unannounced strike was when he was contacted by the media at 7.30 am – he has urged the drivers to come back to the negotiating table.
“They are public service vehicles and by taking action without any notice they are not really being fair to the public,” he said.
“They can be as mean and horrible to me as they like but when it comes to the public they need to allow some time for alternative arrangements to be made.”
The strike follows announcements of reforms to taxi regulation – the changes are about making fares more transparent, resetting maximum prices and improving disabled access.
But the issue that has got the tax drivers aggravated is a proposal that could see more drivers being allowed to get into the business – the existing drivers don’t want that to happen, according to Deputy Noel.
He said: “They want to limit the number of public rank taxis, and that’s not acceptable.”
The drivers aren’t the only ones who don’t like the plans – the Competition Regulatory Authority has pushed for full deregulation, allowing anyone to operate in the market, which would significantly push down fares.
They say that the ministers plans will increase prices – and that the system will remain confusing.
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