Wexford one of 23 counties with less taxi licences compared to pre-Covid levels

Taxi numbers in Wexford have declined by over 22%, according to new figures from the NTA, highlighting stark regional disparities in access to essential transport. The figures came in response to a recent parliamentary question by Independent TD Carol Nolan. This dramatic drop in available taxis raises concerns for the country’s vital hospitality industry and everyday passengers, particularly as tourist numbers are expected to surge in the coming months.

The South-East Region has been heavily impacted by taxi shortages in recent years, falling by over 11%, which has led to criticism of current SPSV policy by various stakeholders, particularly in hospitality and tourism.

“The significant decrease in taxi availability is a crippling blow to rural Ireland’s hospitality sector,” says Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland. “These businesses often rely on taxis to get customers home safely, especially after dark. With little to no public transport links in rural areas and without a vital taxi service, many people simply won’t go out, further squeezing already strained rural businesses. The Government needs to take immediate action to address this issue before it cripples the entire industry entirely.”

The decline in taxi numbers is attributed to a number of factors, including the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, an onerous entry system, and costly barriers for new drivers – such as outlays of up to €59,000 for a vehicle alone.

The Taxis for Ireland Coalition is calling on the NTA and the Government to take immediate action to address the shortage of taxis. They propose a 30% increase in taxi vehicles by 2027 as a step towards alleviating the impact of driver and vehicle number decrease over the past decade, coupled with Ireland’s population growth.

“A reliable and accessible taxi network is essential for a thriving hospitality industry and local economies,” says Kieran Harte, General Manager of Uber Ireland. “Taxis provide a safe and familiar option for visitors to Ireland and serve an invaluable service to people in rural and urban areas alike. We urge the Government and NTA to acknowledge the issue and take concrete steps to improve the supply of licensed, regulated taxi drivers and vehicles.”

The Taxis for Ireland Coalition is calling for the removal of the WAV requirement for newly registered SPSVs and a re-assessment of the SPSV Driver Entry Test’s geography-based knowledge requirements. The removal of the WAV requirement but the continuation of the WAV grant would mean a larger pool of taxis to choose from, meaning that people that do not need a WAV will not be booking one unnecessarily. The Coalition states that these measures would alleviate the current burdens facing prospective new drivers and would increase overall supply into the market.

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