THE same number of taxis operate in Dublin as in New York — but with only a fraction of the population to support business.
That’s according to taxi drivers who are concerned their work is drying up due to “excessive” numbers of licences being issued.
Now TDs are set to question the taxi regulator about freezing cab numbers due to drivers’ concerns. The joint committee on transport has agreed to carry out a review of taxi licences in Ireland.
Regulator Kathleen Doyle will appear before TDs on April 23 to discuss the issue.
During the review, the committee will look at the option of changing legislation to give the taxi regulator the discretion to put a cap on the number of taxi licences being issued where there is already a substantial numbers of taxis operating.
Taxi representatives from associations in Dublin, Galway and Waterford will also discuss problems they are experiencing in relation to the number of cabs operating, as well as traffic congestion in cities and towns and an increasing lack of parking spaces at taxi ranks in busy areas.
According to chairman of the transport committee Frank Fahey, taxi licences are now being sold freely on a weekly basis like second-hand goods.
Speaking about his home county, the Fianna Fáil TD explained: “A market now exists for taxi licences in cities like Galway where they are advertised for sale on a weekly basis in local newspapers.”
Driver representatives say the situation is “crazy”.
Taxi workers are getting tickets for parking in restricted areas because ranks are constantly full, explained Tommy Gorman, president of the National Taxi Drivers Union.
“They have to be capped for a number of years. We are in a serious situation.
“Drivers are losing their homes because they can’t afford to pay their mortgages.”
According to the union, there are now 19,000 taxi licences nationwide.
In Dublin alone there are 12,001. This compares with New York, the most populous city in the United States, where there are 12,019 yellow cabs for more than eight million people.
“It’s reached a saturation point in Ireland but needs to be cut or the market will collapse,” said Mr Gorman.
Drivers need between 12 and 15 fares a day to maintain a reasonable income, say representatives, but they are not getting enough custom.
In Cork, licence numbers have risen from about 200 to 2,200 in a mere six years.
However, the city only has parking for 100 cabs, the union claims.
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