The new mechanism allows vital healthcare workers to select the new “Medical” fleet-type option on the app to book their taxi and to get 50% off their fare.
These critical staff then just need to show their medical ID to drivers at the start of their trip, with FREE NOW taking no commission from drivers for these trips.
It follows a FREE NOW survey of its drivers across Ireland, that showed an overwhelming 87% expressing their desire to directly support healthcare staff in their vital work.
The new support will be available from mid-morning today to all front-line medical practitioners, supporting healthcare workers as well as those working in primary care services, including porters, cleaners and hospital receptionists.
In a recent survey, FREE NOW drivers have highlighted some of the precautions they are taking to ensure their cars remain clean.
These include providing passengers with tissues and keeping the windows slightly open, cleaning their car after every trip, including wiping down door handles and seats as well as only accepting card or app payments to limit the use of cash.
Alan Fox, FREE NOW General Manager, Ireland, said: “The health and safety of passengers, driver partners and staff is our top priority and we are now looking at new ways to adapt the fleet of 14,000 taxis to meet the COVID-19 challenge across Ireland.
“This new initiative will support the movement of vital healthcare workers performing critical duties, as well as helping drivers to generate income in this incredibly challenging time.
“We are already working with the HSE as an approved transport supplier to aid its critical work and we are actively guiding drivers and partners on the transport-specific hygiene measures required in line with HSE, Department of Health and government guidance. It is a testament to FREE NOW drivers that they are willing to step up, even when their earnings are taking a hit in these uncertain times to keep Ireland moving.” he said.
Joe Herron, president of the Irish Taxi Drivers’ Federation, said:“Taxi drivers are extremely glad to be able to play their part in the COVID-19 fight.
“Our services have been badly hit by the virus and our profession is particularly vulnerable, so this FREE NOW initiative is to be welcomed for multiple reasons.
“Taxi drivers have been deemed an essential service by the government, and this initiative will help vital healthcare workers to get to their critically important jobs as well as supporting struggling drivers in this, the most difficult of times.” he added.
FREE NOW has recommended that drivers and passengers adhere to HSE, Department of Health and government guidance when travelling, with drivers advised to disinfect their cars regularly and to switch to card payment only.
The company has temporarily turned off its Match taxi-sharing service.