Uber facing rough ride in Ireland

It is looking unlikely that it will be allowed to roll out its ride-sharing services...

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has poured cold water on Uber's plans to bring ride-sharing to Ireland.

According to the Irish Examiner, an NTA spokesperson has said that it is unlikely that there will be any change to the current legislation preventing drivers charging for the transportation of others without a taxi licence.

While Uber has a number of taxi drivers using its service in Dublin, the majority of its worldwide business utilises unlicensed drivers using its smartphone app to ride-share.

Uber Ireland's country manager Kieran Harte had told the Irish Examiner only last week that the San Francisco-headquartered company was in “positive discussions with all stakeholders with regards to the framework needed to scale the business in Ireland”.

The NTA spokesperson said, however:

“The ridesharing transport model, operating in certain jurisdictions outside Ireland, has been to use vehicles and drivers which, and who, do not hold the conventional licences required for taxis or hackneys for the carriage of persons for reward.

“That model of operating commercial services for hire without licences is not a model that would comply with primary legislation in Ireland, and it is not anticipated that small public-service vehicles legislation will be amended in this regard.

“Uber Ireland Technologies Ltd is licensed by the National Transport Authority, as a small public-service vehicles dispatch operator.

“Uber has categorically assured the National Transport Authority that, in Ireland, it contracts only with licensed drivers using licensed vehicles, together with operating the taximeter and remaining within the maximum fares order for taxi journeys as obliged at law.”

Minister for Transport Shane Ross had been advised against a change in legislation by civil servants earlier this year, who argued that the situation could not “rationally co-exist with the existing system of regulation for taxis, hackneys and limousines”.

Earlier this month, Uber's Kieran Harte sat down with Down to Business for a wide-ranging chat...