In issue seven of The Democrat, we carried a story in relation to evening hackney and mini-bus services. Concerns were raised with us about the lack of late evening hackney and bus services in the Strokestown area. The article elicited a very strong response from hackney and mini-bus operators in the area. Many of the operators felt our article was unfair, however, we are nothing if not fair and have spoken to a number of the operators who took issue with the article and have agreed to carry their side of the story.
In our article, we noted that it was not possible for all the hackney and mini-bus operators to operate a late-night service seven days a week. The Democrat speculated on a number of possible solutions to the problem, and gave examples as to the solutions which had been implemented in other areas. However, a number of operators have placed the blame firmly at the feet of the publicans. One operator detailed a scheme they tried to operate a number of years ago, whereby publicans could book their services at eleven o’clock for closing time, the operator put up posters, talked to the publicans, and after a number of weeks had received no calls for the evening service on offer.
A number of operators claim that the publicans don’t do enough to clear-out their premises at a reasonable time during the week. One operator noted that they already work fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, and couldn’t possibly be waiting up until pub closing times, every day, in order collect customers, so they make a point of not bringing people into town during the week at all. Another noted that after our article run, they trialed waiting up until late to see if they got any calls, in the course of a week they only received one call after 11 pm to run someone home from a local public house.
All the hackney and mini-bus operators we spoke with, before and after our last article, have assured us that they always bring home customers who book return journeys, but some did note that they receive calls to bring home customers who they did not drop into town, and often they have already finished up for the night. When possible, they will oblige but they cannot always do so for various reasons. They did admit that it would stand to reason that they are receiving these calls because another operator is not answering publicans, having already dropped customers into town, but they would not be drawn further on matter.
The issue of a late-evening hackney service appears to be a contentious one. Publicans claim there is ample demand, yet hackney and mini bus operators say that they aren’t being asked to provide one. It would appear, as is often the case, that there is a breakdown in communication between the various stakeholders: publicans; public service vehicle operators; and their shared customers. Perhaps those with an economic interest in this matter will endeavour to resolve what, to all intense and purpose, appears to be a resolvable problem.
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