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In Dublin, better own a taxi

Dublin, March 3 (Reuters): Michael O’Leary, head of Irish-based budget airline Ryanair, has come up with a novel way to beat Dublin’s notorious traffic jams — his own taxi licence.

Tired of crawling through the Irish capital’s frequent gridlocks, multi-millionaire O’Leary has bought a taxi licence which allows him to drive his luxury Mercedes saloon in restricted bus lanes, Irish newspapers reported today. The licence, which cost 6,000 euros ($6,480), also gives O’Leary access to city centre streets closed off to normal motorists.

Traffic in Dublin has almost ground to a standstill after more than half a decade of so-called “Celtic Tiger” boom times swelled the population and flooded roads with new vehicles. Since deregulation of the taxi industry three years ago, the number of licences in circulation in the city has tripled to around 11,000.

A spokeswoman for Ryanair — Europe’s second-biggest budget carrier — confirmed the move by O’Leary. “To the best of my knowledge it’s true and what is reported in the papers is correct,” she said.

While it is not illegal to use the licence, O’Leary would be obliged to pick up customers if hailed while driving without a passenger in his car, the papers said. Ireland’s Taxi Drivers Union has accused O’Leary of abusing the licensing system and of “making a mockery” of the rules of the road.

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