DIFFICULTIES The availability of taxis or hackneys is becoming a serious issue for the hospitality sector in a lot of Mayo towns. Pic: istock
Edwin McGreal and Cian McNicholas
People stranded outside Westport pubs and clubs at closing time is becoming a more frequent occurrence due to difficulties in getting taxis or hackneys home.
“A lot of taxis went out of the game during Covid,” Westport-based Cllr Christy Hyland told The Mayo News.
“From what I can gather a lot of taxis just want quick drops, not going beyond five miles of the town. It is very hard to get a taxi at night. It is a problem for locals and for tourists,” added Cllr Hyland.
While taxis is the generic term for taxis and hackney cabs, there are no official taxis in Westport. While Castlebar and Ballina have taxi ranks and taxi cars, in Westport there are only hackney cabs. Hackneys are not licensed to pull up on the street and wait for trade. They are supposed to be telephoned for hire. Castlebar taxis sometimes operate in Westport.
“There is a big shortage of taxis for people leaving pubs at half past 12 trying to get home and cannot get home, left on the street until 2am or 3am in the morning,” said publican Paul Duffy from MacBride’s in Westport.
Ciara Brennan from The West Bar across the road has seen a similar experience.
“In my opinion there definitely is a shortage. Pre Covid you could get a taxi every single night. At the moment it is very, very different. Often times I’ve customers in and I’m ordering taxis for them, they’re not answering, there’s not enough around, they’re too busy,” she said.
John Moran from Moran’s Bar said there simply is not enough around at closing time.
“At midnight everyone is looking for them and there isn’t enough of them around,” he said. Nathan Sheridin explained about how hard it was for him to get a lift at 4am one morning.
“There were crowds of people on the street and I couldn’t get a taxi for love nor money so I had to get my aunt out of bed at four in the morning to come and pick me up,” he said.
However two publicans explained how they use the same taxis for their regulars and are not encountering huge difficulties.
“We’ve got a couple of regular taxis that do most of our runs. There is obviously a shortage but we don’t suffer too much from it,” said Martin Loftus from Lofty’s Bar.
“I’d use regular taxis and if there’s a night they’re finishing early, they’d text me and say they’re going early and ‘have you anyone there you need to get home?’ I find them fairly good,” said Kenneth Lavelle from The Jester.
Read about taxi problems in Ballina and Castlebar in this week’s print edition of The Mayo News