Number of taxis has trebled since 2000
The number of taxis on Irish roads has almost trebled since deregulation, according to figures recently released by the Minister for Transport, Mr Brennan.
The Minister reiterated that the Government had no plans to provide financial support to drivers who use wheelchair-accessible taxis. The fee for such taxi licences is €125, compared to €6,500 for ordinary cars.
Wheelchair-accessible taxis depreciate in value at the rate of €25 a day, according to the Sinn Féin TD Mr Seán Crowe, who tabled a parliamentary question on the issue.
Up to November 2000, when the taxi industry was deregulated, some 3,913 taxi licences had been granted, the Minister informed Mr Crowe in a written reply. By last November, this figure had almost trebled to 11,630.
The figures were released just before it emerged that some 500 taxi-drivers are expected to lodge compensation claims against the Government over the decision to deregulate the industry.
Up to 3,900 taxi drivers were affected by deregulation, according to Mr Vinnie Kearns, of the National Taxi Drivers' Union (NTDU). The drivers bought their taxi licences before the industry was liberalised, when the price was dramatically reduced, and their cases are expected in court next summer.
The NTDU has already rejected as "an insult" the €15 million hardship fund announced by the Minister for Transport for taxi-drivers affected by the liberalisation.
Mr Brennan said that the regulations for taxi licensing had been revised in November 2000 in recognition of the need to promote and provide an incentive for wheelchair-accessible taxis.
The Government recently approved the appointment of a taxi regulator, whose functions will include the implementation of the commitment to continue making taxis wheelchair-accessible.