BLACK taxi drivers, supported by West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, have delivered a letter to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) headquarters calling on the Minister to urgently implement the concessionary fares facility to avoid imminent job losses in the industry.
Drivers from King Street’s Belfast Taxis CIC (Community Interest Company) which operates the service across West and North Belfast, say they are seeking a meeting with Minster Nichola Mallon calling for action.
Chairperson of the Belfast Taxis CIC Michael Culbert said: “For some years now Belfast Taxis CIC has been involved in numerous meetings and communications with Department for Infrastructure officials on the issue of the implementation of concessionary fares in community Black Taxis in West and North Belfast.
“This has still not been resolved, and it is simply not good enough. All we are asking for is for the same concessionary facility to be available to Black Taxi customers in the same way as they are available on other transport companies. This is now an equality issue, and we believe that our customers are being unfairly treated.
This has still not been resolved, and it is simply not good enough. All we are asking for is for the same concessionary facility to be available to Black Taxi customers in the same way as they are available on other transport companies. This is now an equality issue, and we believe that our customers are being unfairly treated.
“We are saying to Minister Mallon; sort this issue now before many jobs are lost. We need action now.”
Black taxi driver Michael Drain spoke of how over the last months “the situation has become much harder for drivers in the community”.
“It is now getting to the point where drivers will lose their jobs in the time ahead. All we are asking is for the Minister to treat our community transport service equally and implement concessionary fares for the benefit of our passengers.
“The Minister can save jobs and that is what I am urging her to do,” he said.
West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, who accompanied the taxi drivers to deliver the letter to the Minister, said: “I have written previously to request an urgent meeting for West and North Belfast Black Taxis with the Minister.
“The issue has now been outstanding for too long and needs addressed as a matter of urgency.
“Over 60s in my constituency and the Minister’s own constituency use the Black Taxi service and cannot avail of the concessionary fare scheme and I believe this is an equality issue.
“I am again seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister, along with the board of Belfast Taxis CIC, as the situation is now critical with many job losses looming.
“I have requested that the Minister provide me with suitable dates to meet to resolve this matter. The future of many jobs depends on it.”