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 and 2022;
- Engaged with insurance providers to provide premium reductions including 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;
- Enactment of an emergency regulation to double the period (to 24 months) that taxi, hackney and limousine licences may rest in inactive status after expiry prior to losing the capacity to be replaced;
- 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 public consultations, NTA enacted two emergency measures in May and December 2020 due to the enduring adverse economic consequences of the COVID pandemic on the SPSV industry. These Regulation were:
- The Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations 2020 (which concerned 763 taxis and hackneys due to reach their maximum permissible age during the period 13 March 2020 to 31 December 2020); and
- The Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 (which concerned 1,756 taxis and hackneys due to reach their maximum permissible age during the period 1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021).
Given the unexpected delays in vaccination rollout and the travel and gathering restrictions which applied at that time and which continued to severely impact on SPSV licence holders, in May 2021 NTA enacted further emergency regulations, the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure Covid-19) Regulations 2021, which revoked the two abovementioned instruments and ensured that no small public service vehicle would reach its maximum permissible age during 2021.
In light of the ongoing nature of the pandemic and concerns regarding the potential impact of the ‘Delta variant’ on the SPSV industry, NTA proposes now to enact another extraordinary measure. This proposed regulation will repeal the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure Covid-19) Regulations 2021, and will provide emergency COVID-19 protection to the 2,095 vehicles due to reach their maximum permissible age during 2022 for the first time, as well as further protection to the 2,030 vehicles who availed of the previous measures and are now due to reach their amended maximum permissible age in 2022. The 4,125 vehicles concerned 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 4,125 affected vehicles would remain eligible to be licenced, all other obligations being met, throughout 2022. There is no change to the intent or practice of the Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) Regulations 2021.
Thank you for expressing your interest in the Public Consultation on the Draft Small Public Service Vehicle (Emergency Measure COVID-19) (Maximum Permissible Age) Regulations 2021. The closing time and date for submissions is 5pm on Wednesday, 11 August 2021.
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.