'Pollard chosen for rural hackney pilot scheme

Castlepollard is one of 21 rural areas chosen to participate in a new pilot scheme for a localised, speciallly licenced hackey service.

The National Local Hackney Pilot, which was launched yesterday by the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD, with the National Transport Authority (NTA), is a grant aided programme designed to encourage new part-time local hackney services in communities which could not support a full-time taxi or hackney operation. Applications to take part in the one-year Pilot Programme can be made at localhackney.ie.

The pilot programme will roll out across 21 rural areas across the country. All drivers will be licenced, insured and Garda vetted.

The inclusion of Castlepollard in the pilot scheme has been welcomed by Cllr Hazel Smyth

“A key priority for the Greens in government is to improve connectivity across rural Ireland, not just in towns, but in the areas around those towns where so many people live and farm. This pilot responds to the reality of rural life in Ireland, in a creative and local-based way, connecting people from their doors to local towns, healthcare centres, the post-offices, or onto other transport stops and hubs.

“With this new pilot service, the community around Castlepollard will have a part time local area hackney service available to them. It will be monitored over the coming year, using the learning to ensure that we can roll out similar schemes in other locations across Westmeath. This Pilot is an important part of the Government’s National Sustainable Mobility Plan 2022-2025 and a key deliverable under Our Rural Future 2021-2025.”

Each successful applicant for the local hackney license may be granted €6,000 as a subsidy to ordinary fares income, to run the service. This grant is designed to contribute towards the fixed costs associated with providing this service. It is payable by NTA over one year, in equal monthly instalments, where the service provider can show that the services are being used and the local hackney service is of benefit to the community.

This special limited local licence is designed to ensure that existing taxi or hackney services already operating and providing appropriate service in any area are not displaced.

The local hackney, which exclusively operates on a pre-booked basis, may only pick up passengers within a designated area of 7 to 10km from a chosen point, normally the residence of the licenced driver. The drop off point has no restrictions, with trips to healthcare facilities and transport hubs further afield anticipated.

Each local hackney service will be partnered with a local NTA Compliance Officer who will be a regular point of contact for any licensing or compliance queries.