DEPUTY First Minister Michelle O’Neill has called for government subsidies to support the Belfast Black Taxi Association, which operates in the north and west of the city.
The Sinn Féin MLA joined West Belfast MP Paul Maskey for a meeting with association representatives on Thursday past.
Ms O’Neill said that she had given a “commitment” to raise issues faced by the black taxis with Infrastructure Minister Nicola Mallon.
“It is certainly my view that the black taxis should benefit from the same system as Translink do with the provision of subsidised travel for those that use the service,” Ms O’Neill commented.
“Putting in place concessionary fares for black Ttaxis would be a small cost with a huge benefit, keeping people in jobs and ensuring the iconic taxis are kept on the road.
“This move will protect over 200 jobs and maintain this vital public service.”
Paul Maskey MP said: “I welcome that Michelle O’Neill also gave a commitment to raise the Belfast Black Taxi Association with the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon. It is my view that Belfast black taxis should benefit from the same system as Translink – with the provision of subsidised travel for senior citizens and young people.
“Putting in place concessionary fares for black taxis would be a small cost for the Infrastructure Minister.
“However, these subsidised fares would make the Belfast Black taxis much more financially sustainable and competitive.”
He added: “The Belfast black taxis have ferried the people of Belfast for decades – I am committed to working to ensure they will be here for the benefit of the community for decades to come.”