The number of taxi drivers in the Republic has fallen to its lowest level in the past decade with a net loss of over 400 cabbies in the past year.
The total number of people working in the sector has almost halved since the economic downturn in 2008.
Figures published by the National Transport Authority show there was a total of 26,012 licensed taxi drivers at the end of 2017.
It indicates there was a net reduction of 408 individuals working as taxi drivers over the previous 12 months and an annual decrease of 1.5% in driver numbers.
The total number of drivers has now fallen by 45% since levels peaked in 2009 when there were 47,222 working in the sector.
Taxi representative bodies have complained that operational costs have soared in recent years largely as a result of large increases in motor insurance premiums.
Jim Waldron, spokesman for the National Private Hire and Taxi Association said some drivers were finding it more lucrative to return to their former professions.
“Many people from trades in the construction sector became taxi drivers when building work dried up and they are now going back to their old jobs as they are providing more regular work and pensions,” Mr Waldron said.
He claimed that the cost for new entrants to the industry was prohibitive as first-time applicants had to buy wheelchair accessible taxis which are considerably more expensive than standard vehicles.
Taxi drivers have welcomed a 3% increase in fares announced last summer which is due to be implemented on February 1 — the first price increase since 2015.
There were a total of 20,581 taxis and hackneys licensed at the end of December — 223 fewer than at the end of 2016.
More than half of all licensed vehicles operate in Dublin, with 10,688 registered taxi cabs in the capital, followed by Cork (1,780) and Meath (1,091).
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