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Galway has fewer taxis since Covid pandemic

Taxi numbers in Galway have declined by over four and a half per cent – one of 23 counties across the country to show a drop in licence numbers.

That’s according to new figures released by the National Taxi Association, on foot of a response to a recent parliamentary question by Independent TD Carol Nolan.

Galway boasted 1,3232 taxi licences in 2019, before the arrival of the pandemic. That fell to 1,215 by the time that normality resumed in 2023 – a drop of 4.58 per cent.

And while licence numbers increased last year to 1,271 (or 4.61 per cent) that is still a distance from levels before the arrival of Covid.

The NTA said that this dramatic drop in available taxis raised concerns for the country’s vital hospitality industry and everyday passengers, particularly as tourist numbers are expected to surge in the coming months.

The West has been heavily impacted by taxi shortages in recent years, with licences dropping by almost 9% in the same period, 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, the Portumna-born 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,” he added.

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.

The Taxis Coalition is calling for the removal of the Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicle requirement for newly registered SPSVs and a re-assessment of the SPSV Driver Entry Test’s geography-based knowledge requirements.

It claims that 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.

And they believe that these measures would alleviate the current burdens facing prospective new drivers and would increase overall supply into the market.

Pictured: Adrian Cummins…damage to hospitality sector.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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