Licensed taxis down 14% from 2008 peak


THE NUMBER of licensed taxis has declined by more than 14 per cent from an industry peak in 2008, the Department of Transport has confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the department said the number of licensed taxis stands at 23,543, down from a figure of 27,429 four years ago, in response to a query from The Irish Times.

The spokeswoman said measures proposed in the Taxi Regulation Review report, published at the end of January, would “discourage the rogue operators who make it tough for the decent taxi man or woman to earn a living in the industry”.

When he unveiled the report, Minister of State for Transport Alan Kelly predicted a “serious exit” from the sector as a result of the recommendations about vehicle standards and driver licensing.

Mr Kelly estimated there was an “over-supply” of between 13 per cent and 22 per cent in the industry.

He announced an industry-wide review last May after a RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme highlighted what he described as “unacceptable practices” in the sector.

Proposed legislation will mean taxi drivers with certain criminal convictions will have to apply to the courts to maintain their licences, and a new system of penalty points specific to the taxi sector will be introduced, with a graduated system of fixed fines as opposed to a single €250 fine for all offences.

Drivers will have to declare if they have any other employment at the time of licence application or renewal. If they do, the application requires the submission of a form signed by the applicant’s employer confirming that the two jobs are compatible.

The age limit for new taxis and those in service since January 2009 will be nine years and 14 years for vehicles operating in the industry before that date. The latter category of vehicles will have to undergo a suitability and NCT test every six months.

All future applicants for taxi licences will have to ensure their cars can accept credit cards, while it is hoped the recently launched Leap public transport card will also be used for payment purposes.

Taxi vehicle licences will not be transferrable from October of this year. A new, smaller taxi roof sign will be designed.

The National Transport Authority is the agency with responsibility for the implementation of the new measures, and is expected to provide quarterly reports on progress to the Taxi Advisory Committee established under the Taxi Regulation Act 2003.