Words: Ellen Kenny
Start booking your Free Now via carrier pigeon, I guess.
Free Now announced in an email to customers that they will introduce a one euro “technology fee” to all taxi fares from August 1.
The fee is independent to the duration of the journey and the number of passengers in the taxi. Drivers will not receive any part of the technology fee.
The company explained that the new fee will be used to “invest in technology improvements that will allow us to extend our product offering for passengers”.
Free Now will introduce the fee “to allow for the introduction of new mobility services such as eBikes and eScooters. The company announced the upcoming introduction of eBikes in January. Free Now currently has no public timeline for when they will launch eBikes on the app.
This one euro fee is in addition to the current two euro booking fee. From August 1, a Free Now taxi will cost 7.20 euros on weekends and evenings before the journey even begins. If there are three people with you it will cost 10.20 euros.
Free Now is currently the most popular taxi service in Ireland. In 2021, they reported 2.1 bookings per second between 23:00 and 00:00 from Mondays to Saturdays.
Many will now reconsider going back to hailing taxis more frequently, but there’s no luck there, either. Regular taxi fares are set to increase by an average of 12 per cent from September 1. The National Transport Authority cited increasing operating costs as the reason for this.
There are currently 10,087 taxis in Dublin according to the NTA, an increase in only 32 taxis since the end of 2021.
While some can defer to public transport instead of taxis, many have to choose between a cheap ride home or their own safety.
A 2020 report found that 55 per cent of women do not feel safe using public transport at night. 34 per cent said that their concerns about safety travelling at night has prevented them from going out completely. If taxis are to become even more rare and expensive, how many more women will feel unsafe leaving their homes?
At a time when we should all be allowed to enjoy nightlife once again, we’re only made to feel more and more unsafe.
Elsewhere on District: Is Ireland ready for nightclubs to stay open until 6am?