Rural hackney licenses are under way with a new pilot scheme was launched today by the National Transport Authority.

The license is designed to facilitate low-cost entry into the taxi sector for isolated rural areas.

These regulations allow the National Transport Authority to grant hackney licenses for isolated rural areas at a low cost of approximately €50 in the case of the vehicle license.

Currently hackney license are only being issued to vehicles that are wheelchair accessible which can bring the cost of providing such a service to in excess of €30,000 and would not be viable.

Welcoming the move, Minister Kelly, said it was crucial to come up with creative solutions to improve transport connections in rural areas.

“Access to transport is a major problem in rural Ireland and we needed to think creatively about how to solve it. We are all only too well area aware of many isolated people in rural communities that are unable to access their local services. The taxi regulation system has not been designed for isolated areas of rural Ireland and this is a way it may do so,” said the minister.

The National Transport Authority will now establish an application process as part of the granting of these licenses following the public consultation.

Applicants for the license will be required to be sanctioned by a local business or community group and need to demonstrate that their area has a deficit of public transport and taxi services. This will require the approval of the local authority.

“What I hope is that the rural transport groups, working with the local authorities, will be able to identify the area’s most in need of access to transport and licenses can be granted on that basis.  It will be done on a pilot basis initially. The aim is to provide people with social mobility and give people a way of accessing shops, health services and local events,” the minister concluded.