FREE NOW comments on later opening hours for bars and nightclubs

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Comments from FREE NOW regarding Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s proposals for Cabinet review  to modernise alcohol licensing laws allowing later opening hours for bars and nightclubs.

Fiona Brady, FREE NOW Head of Operations & Public Affairs:“We welcome Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s proposals for Cabinet review today to modernise alcohol licensing laws allowing later opening hours for bars and nightclubs. 

In our recently published White Paper Stimulating a Viable, Sustainable Taxi Network, we outlined the positive impact updated licensing laws could have on helping to ease clustered public demand for taxis at peak times in city centre locations when licensed premises close. This view is shared by many FREE NOW driver partners according to recent research, with almost three in four (73%) agreeing that the introduction of staggered closing times by government could help alleviate passenger demand at certain points throughout the night and over the weekend. 

FREE NOW driver partners are now completing more trips than they did pre-pandemic – servicing around 35% more journeys since the beginning of 2022 versus the same period in 2019; one trip every two seconds on average. However, the current closing times in place for late-night venues means that soaring booking requests at set times in the evening cannot always be met by the volume of available drivers. We hope the government’s proposals will help facilitate a staggering of that current clustered demand across the evening and enable drivers to help more passengers get home via taxi. 

Taxi drivers are providing passengers with the main on-demand, door-to-door, transport service available late at night in cities like Dublin. In addition to updated licensing laws however, we also need to consider improved and extended public transport options which operate both day and night to support our national taxi fleet in meeting peak time transport needs. Indeed almost one in two (46%) of our driver partners strongly believe that Ireland needs more late-night public transport options (like 24hr bus services) to help reduce peak time pressure on taxi drivers.”