Recession blamed for 20pc reduction in taxis since 2008
THE number of taxis has plummeted because of the recession, with 20pc fewer vehicles on our roads, new statistics show.
A report from the National Transport Authority says the number of active taxi licences in the State fell more than 5,500 between 2008 and December 2013.
There are now 21,900 taxi licences, down from a peak of 27,429.
No new regular taxi licences have been issued since June 2010 in an attempt to increase the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles.
But just 93 new licences for those were issued since then, while 800 have left the business, a drop of 42pc.
"Overall, wheelchair accessible vehicles constitute only 4.2pc of the overall small public service vehicle fleet," said the report.
The number of active driver licences has fallen by 34pc from the peak of 47,529 in May 2009 to 31,186 at the end of 2013.
Taxi driver representatives, however, insist there are still too many licensed vehicles on the road, with many drivers still being forced to work 80 and 90-hour weeks to make ends meet.
Jerry Brennan, general secretary of the National Irish Taxi Association, said the industry was still trying to cope with previous governments' policies.
"More than half the taxis in the country are still in Dublin and there are still too many," he said.
"While we would like to see fewer taxis, we are also aware that many, many drivers are struggling to pay their bills.
"There is no social welfare fall-back so drivers are left with no choice but to stay on and hope for the best."
He said a disproportionate number of drivers had taken their own lives in recent years as they struggled to cope.
"We have to get to a stage where a driver can make a decent living without overdoing the hours he or she has to do. They stay on the treadmill even though it's not working for them.
"The problem is that there is no one looking at what is needed compared to what we have."
He said the NTA needed to use Census data and organise the public and private taxi hire business to meet those needs.
The report also found the number of consumers calling them to report lost property, to complain or for information fell 45pc between 2011 and 2013.