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Licences fall as taxi market is saturated

THE number of people applying for taxi licences has dropped dramatically.

Taxi regulator Kathleen Doyle believes the taxi market is saturated and there are not enough passengers to go around.

Drivers and unions have been protesting at the oversupply of licences since deregulation was introduced. The number of licences has fallen since last September by 500 to 26,229.

"We saw a spike from 2000, when the industry was liberalised, and the increase continued until the middle of 2008," she said.

"The market determined the numbers and since then there has been a decrease. There has been an exit from the market, whether due to retirement or change of careers or because they found the industry had become too competitive."

Taxi drivers are earning 5pc less due to high levels of competition, but their earnings have not collapsed, said Ms Doyle.

"They definitely have to work longer hours to make a living but having said that, it is a liberalised market, it's an open market and if someone meets the criteria for a licence we must grant it."