Public Consultation on Draft Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations
NTA is responsible for the regulation of the Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV) industry in Ireland; this comprises taxis, hackneys and limousines. To date in COVID-19, the following measures have been taken to support the SPSV industry:
- Waiver of late renewal fees of up to €500 for vehicle licence holders from the start of COVID-19;
- Three month deferral of licence renewal dates of all vehicles due to renew from 13 March to 12 June 2020;
- Waiver of standard licence renewal fees for 2021;
- Engaged with insurance providers to provide premium reductions including a COVID discount of up to 30%; a private cover discount of up to a 60% whilst not providing taxi services and up to a 90% discount for transferring to Fire and Theft cover only;
- Enactment of new regulations to extend the maximum permissible operational age of vehicles enabling them to remain in the fleet up to the end 2021 with twice yearly NCT and taxi inspections;
- Suspended licences without SPSV insurance cover rather than leaving licencees open to prosecution and requiring a NCT and an SPSV suitability inspections prior to returning to work;
- Provided electric vehicle and wheelchair accessible vehicle grant schemes;
- Facilitated training on the Fáilte Ireland Infection Prevention Control training programme;
- Assisted Fáilte Ireland in relation to the Strategic Tourism Transport Business Continuity Scheme;
- Completing rolling surveys of driver and user experiences in COVID-19;
- Engaged extensively with the industry individually and through our website, providing advice and assistance on all aspects of operation in COVID-19 including temporary deferral of activities and HSE, public health and mental health guidance, together with financial assistance available during COVID-19 including Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), Enterprise support Grant (ESG), COVID-19 Business Loan Scheme (MFI), COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme, etc.
As part of NTA’s regulatory function, and in accordance with Sections 7 and 20 of the Taxi Regulation Acts 2013 & 2016, NTA may make regulations in respect of the type and age of a vehicle which may be used as an SPSV. Regulation 31 of the Taxi Regulation (Small Public Service Vehicle) Regulations 2015 specifies the “maximum permissible age” limits for operating a vehicle as an SPSV.
The “maximum permissible age” in this context means the age of a vehicle beyond which that vehicle may not be licensed as an SPSV of the relevant vehicle licence category. Once a vehicle reaches its maximum permissible age, the licence holder may not apply to NTA for the renewal of an SPSV licence on that vehicle. A younger replacement vehicle must be purchased, and both a roadworthiness test (NCT) and an SPSV initial suitability test completed.
Shortly after the arrival of COVID-19 to Ireland and following a public consultation, NTA enacted the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations 2020 as an exceptional piece of legislation. These Regulations concerned 763 taxis and hackneys due to reach their maximum permissible age during the period 13 March 2020 to 31 December 2020. Specifically the Regulations extended the maximum permissible age of these vehicles by one year – to 11 years in the context of standard taxi and hackney vehicles, and to 16 years in the context of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Six monthly roadworthiness (NCT) and suitability tests must be completed by these vehicles.
The holders of the SPSV licences associated with 497 of the 763 vehicles concerned, availed of the one year extension to the maximum permissible age requirements provided for under the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations 2020; 397 renewing and 100 entering inactive licence status, with the remainder changing their vehicle despite the emergency legislation (217) or exiting the industry (49).
In December 2020, due to the enduring adverse economic consequences of the COVID pandemic on the SPSV industry, NTA enacted a second piece of exceptional legislation the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 for a further 1,756 vehicles due to reach maximum permissible age in 2021. It is too early in the year to assess the numbers of licence holders who might avail of the regulation.
NTA proposes now to enact a third extraordinary measure given the unexpected delays in vaccination rollout and ongoing travel and gathering restrictions over one year into the pandemic which are so severely impacting on SPSV licence holders. This proposed regulation will combine both previous regulations and provide further emergency COVID-19 protection in relation to the 516 vehicles now due to reach their amended maximum permissible age during 2021. The vehicles concerned are standard taxi and hackney vehicles and will have to maintain six monthly roadworthiness and suitability inspections
NTA seeks to amend Regulation 31 of the Taxi Regulation (Small Public Service Vehicle) Regulations 2015, Maximum Permissible Age Requirements, such that the 516 standard taxi and hackney vehicles would remain eligible to be licenced, together with the 1756 standard taxi and hackney vehicles, all other obligations being met, throughout 2021. This proposed regulation will also repeal the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations 2020 and the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations (No. 2) 2020, combining all maximum permissible age regulation amendments into one piece of regulation. There is no change to the intent or practice of either the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations 2020 or the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations (No. 2) 2020.
Thank you for expressing your interest in the Public Consultation on the draft Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations 2021. The closing date for submissions was 5pm on Tuesday, 11 May 2021. A Public Consultation Report will be published following our review of all submissions.
All submissions must include the full name and email address of the person making the submission. Please note that given the volume of submissions received through public consultation, NTA does not have the resources to answer any comments or queries on an individual basis.
NTA is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2014 and, therefore, must consider any request for information made under that Act. Any submissions received may be published.