'Driving a petrol car is like time travel back to the 1980s'.
Jackie Holmes, a taxi man from the Inishowen Peninsula provides a vital service to the Donegal community by transporting renal dialysis patients to and from Letterkenny University Hospital for their treatment.
Jackie is one of 23 taxis serving the hospital but one of the only drivers to swap diesel for a plug-in.Sixty-Eight people are currently receiving dialysis treatment in the Donegal hospital, adding up to 20,608 return journeys and 1.3 million km’s annually.
The Donegal taxi man took part in a six-week pilot project led by HSE, Local Link and SEAI involving the use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to transport renal dialysis patients to and from their appointments. He saw the trial as an opportunity to innovate and test a new approach for the good of his community. Eighteen months later, Jackie drives a fully electric car, the Nissan e-NV200, and is ‘extremely proud to have the first all-electric wheelchair access vehicle in Europe’. Driving through the lush green hills of Donegal, carbon free, Jackie is contributing to the country’s ambitious targets for a net zero future.
“I wanted to reduce my carbon emissions and fuel consumption to help my grandchildren have a better future and a cleaner, greener world to live in,” he says.
Transport is one of the highest contributors of CO2 in Ireland and accounted for 42% of energy-related CO2 emissions in 2018.
Jackie’s sustainable approach to his job is transforming healthcare in the North-West region as residents reap the rewards of his energy efficient choices. Jackie has no regrets with the switch to electric but admits learning how to drive the EV in terms of conserving energy and charging the battery has been a learning curve.
“I chose the Nissan e-NV200 and I use the car mostly every day. Driving a petrol car is like time travel back to the 1980s and I’m seeing massive results in terms of maintenance and cost. Practically no upkeep and no longer spending money on petrol.”
The biggest challenge Jackie has faced driving the EV, he admits, has been the lack of infrastructure to support his car choice as there are only two fast-charge units in the whole county.
“I need to be organised and plan each journey to ensure I have enough battery to collect my patients, get them to the hospital and charge the vehicle at the only fast-charge points in Letterkenny. This is a challenge, but, I’m happy to say that I have learned to love it,” he states.
Energy efficiency in our communities is hugely important in terms of overall climate action and public sector reform. Throughout the trial drivers reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by 22%. We also estimated that taxi drivers could save €60,000 a year in fuel costs if all 23 taxis serving Letterkenny University Hospital switched to low-emission vehicles.
“Contributing towards a greener future for my community is the most significant achievement for me. The thing I love about my job is taking care of people and delivering the best possible service to ensure patients are as comfortable and happy as possible.”