A new association representing the chauffeur drive industry has been established in the western seaboard counties and will meet in Co Clare tonight.
The aim of the Western Chauffeur Drive Association Ireland is to give a voice to the industry; promoting the services that members offer along with trying to tackle the obstacles they face daily. Branches have been established in Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal.
Galway Branch chairman Gerry Keane said: “Our core service is providing the corporate and tourism sectors with their ground transportation requirements. This all strongly supports the hospitality sector and directly associated businesses both small and large that are heavily dependant on tourism particularly Ireland’s West coast.”
“We provide transportation services to the many companies that are huge employers here on the west coast but our hands are tied and we are not being allowed operate to our full potential,” he said.
The association is calling for parity with the taxi industry which is allowed use the bus lane network and wants the Department of Transport and the Regulator to ‘level the playing field’.
Clare branch spokesman Tony Woods said: “I’ve been driving into Galway with clients who see taxis using the bus lanes and they ask me why I can’t do that. They ask why they shouldn’t they get a taxi instead of a limo and that’s a fair question.”
“It’ very disheartening to have an important executive in your car, going to a big meeting but getting stuck in traffic because we don’t have the same rights as taxi drivers. We are public service vehicles also and it should be a level playing pitch for all,” Mr Woods added.
“Customers have been telling us how they were told they should fly into Dublin. This has been going on for years because it has always been about Dublin. This is why we are not getting as many tourists over here because they are being told they have to fly into Dublin instead of Shannon, Cork or Knock. It’s a ridiculous situation but it’s happening,” he said.
“All we want is a fair crack of the whip and this is why we have established the association with branches in every county from Cork to Donegal. We have to fight for everything we get over here and coming together as an association will hopefully help us do that,” he added.
The fledgling association will hold a meeting in the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis this evening (Tuesday) at 7.00pm.
The National Transport Authority, local public representatives, Chambers of Commerce and other stakeholders have been invited to attend.