Irish taxi drivers could be forced to wear uniforms

The National Transport Authority (NTA) is reviewing the standards and practices in the industry...

A new driver review from the National Transport Authority (NTA) is considering the potential benefits of introducing a dress code for licence holders.

According to the Irish Examiner, the NTA has noted that drivers in other countries are expected to wear smart clothing. Its public consultation discussion paper has sought the views of the industry and the public on whether Ireland should follow suit.

New rules would affect all drivers licensed for small public service vehicles (SPSVs), including hackneys and limousines.

In Edinburgh, drivers must wear a collared shirt, smart trousers or a skirt, and shoes. Runners, denim and t-shirts are not allowed. Meanwhile specific uniforms are required in some parts of Australia, Canada and Spain.

The NTA is also examining the age profile of drivers, and is concerned with the rate of attrition within the industry - close to two-thirds of licence holders are over 50, with almost a third aged over 60.

The number of active SPSV driver licences has fallen 42% since its peak of 47,259 in May 2009.

However, the authority said that the size of Ireland's fleet is high by international standards, and the number of drivers entering the industry each year remains stable, with 519 new licences issued last year.

The NTA revealed that, since the SPSV Driver Entry Test was introduced in July 2009, just 54% of the over 9,000 people attempting to become a taxi driver have passed.

The NTA is also reviewing medical fitness, age restrictions, training requirements and language proficiency. A spokesperson told the Irish Examiner:

"The aim of this review is to allow consumers and the SPSV sector to have confidence in the suitability of the system for driver licensing and to ensure that legitimate and competent operators and drivers are rewarded fairly by operating under a regulatory framework that is adequately enforced and competitive."