There are just under 200 taxis in operation in Wexford at the moment down from over 270 ten years ago. Nationally we are experiencing a taxi shortage across the country with running costs making participating in the occupation a challenge for many would-be taxi drivers.
This is according to insurance experts at Insuremytaxi.ie who say that National Transport Authority (NTA) data shows that there are less than 19,500 licensed taxis, hackneys, and limousines on Irish roads today, compared to 21,900 ten years ago and 27,429 in 2008.
The insurance providers say that several years ago it became unaffordable for many people to pursue a career in the profession due to soaring insurance premiums, but that they believe that a new agreement they have reached with insurers should shave hundreds of euros off the average insurance premium, particularly for small public service vehicles outside of Dublin.
Jonathan Hehir, MD of Insuremytaxi.ie spoke of his belief that the cheaper premiums will attract greater numbers to the taxi industry and bridge the gap between demand and supply.
“We’ve been in discussions over the last 18 months and are delighted to launch this service and much-needed competition to the market”.
Experts at Insuremytaxi.ie say that taxi insurance is one of the areas of commercial insurance where historically there have been very high premiums – and which has significantly added to the cost of running a taxi. The company believes high insurance costs have contributed to the fact that many drivers have left the business and have acted as a disincentive for new drivers to come in.
Mr. Hehir explained,
“In Wexford, there are currently just under 200 taxis in operation. down from over 270 ten years ago. And yet between 2016 and 2022 alone, the population of the county grew by almost 4,200.
This has a negative knock-on effect on both our hospitality and tourism industry. Being left stranded late at night because of a shortage of taxi drivers, particularly at busy times like Christmas or after concerts or festivals, is not a good selling point.
The shortage of taxis in rural areas is a perennial problem, particularly in isolated rural areas where the cost of providing taxis is often a major obstacle. A better-resourced rural taxi service could help combat social isolation in rural areas, particularly for the elderly.
The implications of an underserviced public are wide-ranging – of course, there’s the public safety element for people who cannot get home late at night. Unfortunately, drink-driving is also an issue. Not having a dependable means of transportation home may well entice people to break the rules around drink-driving.
In addition, for the tourists arriving in this country, often their first experience is an hour-long wait for taxis at airports and train stations. This isn’t acceptable. There simply aren’t enough taxis on the roads. We believe our new low-cost insurance will encourage more people to apply for a taxi licence at a time when there is such a shortage of them and hopefully improve the taxi experience for locals and tourists alike. However, the Government also needs to take action to alleviate taxi shortages”.
Mr Hehir is calling on the Government to provide more incentives for young people to enter the taxi business and to address the high insurance costs they often face.
“would like to see young and middle-aged drivers entering the industry at a much earlier stage if that’s what they would like to do. With younger drivers struggling to secure insurance at affordable levels, it’s no surprise that recent figures show that a quarter (23pc) of all taxi drivers are now aged over 66 and 15pc are over 70. The Government needs more young blood in this sector if it wants this country to have a sustainable and well-resourced taxi service. Otherwise, the taxi shortages currently being experienced by so many will only get worse”.