Almost 900 taxi drivers have quit the profession in the first six months of 2015, according to new figures from the National Transport Authority (NTA).
Competition from online taxi service providers like Uber and Hailo is seen as the main reason for the continuing decrease in the number of taxi drivers registered with the NTA.
Although taxi fares have risen by 4% on average since an increase was sanctioned on April 30, many drivers complain that they are still unable to make a decent living from driving a cab due to the large number of people operating in the profession.
The entry into the market in recent years of operators of smartphone apps for taxis — such as Uber and Hailo — with lower standard fares has placed increasing pressure on the income levels of traditional taxi drivers in a sector which is regarded as having an oversupply of taxis, particularly in Dublin.
New figures from the NTA show that there were 28,578 active taxi drivers licensed at the end of June, a reduction of 879 compared to the start of 2015.
It follows a continuing trend in which the number of taxi drivers has been in decline since 2009 when the number of licence holders peaked at over 47,200, following controversial deregulation of the industry in 2000.
More than 18,600 fewer taxi drivers are now officially registered than in 2009.
However, some of the reduction is also viewed as people exiting the taxi profession to take up better-paid employment, as growth returns to the Irish economy.
According to the NTA, there are also almost 340 fewer vehicles registered with a taxi or hackney licence since January, with 122 fewer in Dublin.
The number of taxis registered in Cork has fallen from 1,334 to 1,305 in the first half of the year. Other counties where there were double-digit decreases in the number of taxis were Meath, Galway, Kildare, Limerick and Sligo.
All counties have seen a reduction in the size of their taxi fleet so far in 2015, with the exception of Louth, Waterford and Wexford, where there was a slight increase in the number of licensed taxis, and Longford and Monaghan, where the numbers remained unchanged.
However, one growth area in the sector has been for limousines licensed for use as a taxi service. The number of limousines licensed with the NTA nationwide jumped from 1,437 in January to 1,511 by June.
In contrast, the number of licensed taxis has declined from 16,899 to 16,607 over the same period, a decrease of 292 vehicles.
A total of 330 fixed-charge notices were issued against taxi drivers in the first half of 2015, with almost half of the fines being for a failure to notify the NTA of a small public-service vehicle being operated.
A quarter of the total fixed-charge notices were issued for standing for hire at a place other than an appointed stand.
The NTA has received a total of 404 complaints against taxi drivers in the year to date, with 224 cases related to the behaviour of the driver.
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