The number of taxi drivers in Ireland has reached a new low, with a net loss of 400 in the past year. The amount of people working in the sector has almost halved since the economic downturn a decade ago.
Figures published by the National Transport Authority (NTA) show there were a total of 26,012 licensed taxi drivers at the end of last year, a net reduction of 408 on the previous year. The total number of drivers has fallen by 45 per cent since levels peaked in 2009, when there were 47,222.
Taxi representative bodies have said that operational costs have increased largely as a result of higher motor insurance premiums.
Jim Waldron, a spokesman for the National Private Hire and Taxi Association, said that some drivers were finding it more profitable to return to their former professions. “Many people from trades in the construction sector became taxi drivers when building work dried up,” he said. “They are now going back to their old jobs as they are providing more regular work and pensions.”
He said the cost for new entrants to the industry was prohibitive as first-time applicants had to buy wheelchair accessible taxis, which are more expensive than standard vehicles. Taxi drivers welcomed the 3 per cent increase in fares announced last summer, which is due to be implemented on February 1, the first price increase since 2015.
The NTA figures also indicate there has been a corresponding decline in the national taxi fleet during 2017. There were a total of 20,581 taxis and hackneys licensed at the end of December, 223 fewer than at the end of 2016. More than half of all licensed vehicles operate in Dublin with 10,688 registered taxi cabs in the capital, followed by 1,780 in Cork and 1,091 in Meath.
- Decade of decline for Irish taxi numbers.