Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Tynwald protest over all-island taxi plans

Taxi drivers are protesting against proposals to allow cabs to operate anywhere in the Isle of Man.

Drivers are currently restricted to picking up fares within their licensing district, of which there are four.

The government wants to change the rules after a public consultation found most residents were in favour of an all-island taxi service.

But drivers are opposed, arguing that most drivers will congregate in Douglas and saturate the market.

Ray Teare, chairman of the Manx Taxi Federation, said: "The problem that we see is that most areas outside the Douglas area will not have sufficient taxis to serve them because they'll all be in Douglas trying to make a living off what we've got left," said Mr Teare.

"We've been looking at this for over 10 years now. The road transport act came in in 2001 and from our experience and knowledge over that 10 years its nonsense to say that people from the outside areas will be served any differently from they are now.

"We've got drivers out there at the moment who are working on less than the minimum wage. They are working eight to 12 hours a day for £2, £3, £4 an hour some days.

"That's a serious problem that the legislature has to look at and consider why are the taxi industry workers being treated differently than any other worker? Are they saying they are going to deprive us from making a decent standard of living?"

'Boost earnings'

But the Department of Infrastructure believes relaxing the restrictions will boost drivers' earnings - by allowing them to pick-up a new fare after dropping someone off outside their area - and cut down on unnecessary journeys.

Minister Phil Gawne has said: "It is a nonsense in this day and age to have taxis running round the island empty because of outdated restrictions on where they can operate.

"Not surprisingly, there are those in the taxi trade who want to protect the status quo."

If approved, the department has pledged to review the new legislation in 12 months to monitor its effect on the industry.

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