22 September 2008

Taxi Fares to rise by over 8%

There is hardly a day now without another piece of bad news. Either we hear of further price rises for this or that, discover a new political scandal, or another piece of government incompetence comes to light.
Well, today we are in for a triple whammy, as all three elements have a share in the latest news.

It has been announced that taxi fares in Ireland are to rise by more than 8% from the beginning of November!

The 'Commission for Taxi Regulation', one of the useless quangos established under Bertie Ahern's government to create more jobs for the boys, says that the rise "reflected increased costs associated with owning and operating a cab" and added the decision followed a five-month "consultation process with drivers and the general public".

Well, I can understand that the drivers want more money. They always do. But the passengers have a quite different view. I was one of those they call "the general public", and I did certainly not advise them to push up taxi fares way above the inflation rate, and even higher above the only recently concluded national wage agreement.

It is a scandal and an outrage that a small group of unelected and uncontrolled 'regulators' can simply make such a decision and drive the costs of existing in Ireland up even higher than they are already.
And of course there is no word from the government, which after all installed those 'regulators'. So it is obviously with the blessing from our rulers that we will now have to pay higher taxi fares.

The price hike does not address the true problem, which is that we now have too many taxis in operation. This is the result of the generous hand-out of new taxi licenses a few years ago, a matter the established taxi drivers were very unhappy with and warned of the inevitable consequences. Now they are here, the incompetence of those who govern us is once more exposed.

And what happens? Prices go up. That's all they can think of.

There is an old joke: What would happen if we exile the government into a desert area?
Answer: Nothing for a few years, and then the price of sand will increase.

The 'regulators' cite the "increased costs associated with owning and operating a cab". Alright, I can understand that taxi owners and drivers are in the same situation as everyone else, facing rising costs for almost everything. But a rise of over 8%? That is another example of Irish highway robbery!

Especially since those who will have to bear the brunt of the fare increase are among the most vulnerable in our society. Big business people and civil servants in Dublin can well afford any rise in taxi fares, and it seems that they were the standard the 'regulators' took for their decision.
But what about all those who do not have a car and are dependent on taxis for their mobility? I think here in particular of sick, disabled and elderly people. They have no choice but calling a taxi when they need to go for a medical treatment, want to visit a friend or even go shopping for their necessities.

Most of them are amongst the poorest people in the country, living on a state pension or on social welfare benefits. They have no way to increase their income, and no chance to escape the constant increase in living costs. They are caught in the poverty trap, created by the utter incompetence of Fianna Fáil, the jolly ignorance of their Green coalition partner, and most of all the ruthless greed of the now defunct PDs.

Thank you to all those who voted for them and kept them in power. I hope that you will pay really through the nose next time you use a taxi, and creak under our hyper-inflation. Maybe the next time you are asked to vote, you might - at least for a moment - use your brain before making your mark on the ballot paper.

The Emerald Islander

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