The number of taxi drivers in Northern Ireland plummets over FORTY PERCENT in six years reveals data

Updated: Dec 16, 2020


Image credit: Karl Black

The number of taxi driver licences in Northern Ireland has plummeted by over FORTY PERCENT in just six years new data reveals.


In new statistics released by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) which covers the second quarter of 2020-21, it details the number of licences held by drivers and how many taxis, across all categories, are currently registered.

In Northern Ireland there are four classes of taxi: A, B, C, and D. The taxi class determines how that taxi can be used and hired.


Taxis classed A and B are similar to traditional hackney carriage taxis and can be hailed, pre-booked and work from taxi ranks. They also have taxi meters and printers fitted and carry roof lights. Class B taxis are wheelchair accessible.


Class C taxis work similar to private hire vehicles. They cannot be hailed and can only accept work that is pre-booked. Class D taxis are licensed to operate along set routes and are permitted to charge the passengers separate fares.


According to the DfI report a total of 15,802 taxi driver licences were recorded at the start of 2014. Just six years later that figure has plunged to just 9,045, representing a fall of over 42%.

Over the last reported 12 months, during a tough COVID-19 period, the number of cab drivers has tumbled by 693, which represents an annual 7% decrease of drivers.


In contrast to the taxi driver licence numbers shrinking, the number of licensed taxi vehicles available to drivers has GROWN during the pandemic.


According to the data there are currently 7,073 Class A taxis licensed compared to 6,713 licensed in April of this year.


Working taxi drivers in Northern Ireland were offered a £1,500 cash boost to help compensate for the financial impact on the industry caused by COVID-19.


Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon announced the £19million Support Fund for Taxi Drivers and Private Coach and Bus Operators on 29 October. £14million was directed towards the taxi industry, with the remaining £5million going to the bus and coach industries.

The bespoke scheme provided a one-off payment of £1,500 to eligible taxi drivers, under the Taxi Driver (Coronavirus, Financial Assistance) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020.


However for cabbies to qualify for the grant there was strict eligibility criteria attached. Cabbies must have been working or available for work as a self-employed taxi driver between 22 March and 30 September 2020 and hold valid taxi hire and reward insurance.


There has been some criticism of this, especially from cabbies who tried to lower their expenditure by reducing their vehicle insurance cover whilst not working. The move to reduce overheads whilst work-levels have been low during the pandemic means those cabbies may not receive the payment.


Earlier this month Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson said the criteria for a COVID-19 support payment for taxi drivers should be changed urgently so all drivers can receive the support they need.

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