Lower insurance may mean more taxis

Shortfall of almost 8,000 taxis but cutting insurance costs might help.

It seems that Ireland is suffering a serious shortage of taxis right now. According to figures from the National Transport Authority (NTA) back in 2008 there were 27,429 licensed taxis and hackneys, whereas today there are only 19,500.

New agreement

One of the key issues blocking the take-up of taxi licences seems to be that of insurance costs, which have ballooned in recent years. However, a new agreement within the Irish insurance industry might now lead to lower premiums and a more affordable cost of entry into the market.

Jonathan Hehir, MD of told CompleteCar of his belief that the cheaper premiums will attract greater numbers to the taxi industry and bridge the gap between demand and supply, "We've been in discussions over the last 18 months and are delighted to launch this service and much-needed competition to the market.

"The steep decline in the number of taxis in the country in the last 10, 15 years, has a negative knock-on effect on both our hospitality and tourism industry. Being left stranded late at night because of a shortage of taxis, particularly at busy times like Christmas or after concerts or festivals, is not a good selling point for Ireland. The shortage of taxis in rural areas is a perennial problem, particularly in isolated rural areas where the cost of providing taxis is often a major obstacle. A better-resourced rural taxi service could help combat social isolation in rural areas, particularly for the elderly."

Road safety implications

According to Hehir, the implications of an underserviced public are wide-ranging - quite aside from the public safety element for people who cannot get home late at night. Drink driving is also an issue and Hehir says that not having a dependable means of transportation home may well entice people to break the rules around drink driving.

"In addition, for the tourists arriving in this country, often their first experience is an hour-long wait for taxis at airports and train stations. This isn't acceptable" said Hehir. "There simply aren't enough taxis on the roads. We believe our new low-cost insurance will encourage more people to apply for a taxi licence at a time when there is such a shortage of them and hopefully improve the taxi experience for locals and tourists alike. However, the Government also needs to take action to alleviate taxi shortages."

Ageing drivers

Hehir believes that the government needs to act fast if younger drivers are to be encouraged into the industry. "We would like to see young and middle-aged drivers entering the industry at a much earlier stage if that's what they would like to do. With younger drivers struggling to secure insurance at affordable levels, it's no surprise that recent figures show that almost a quarter - 23 per cent - of all taxi drivers are now aged over 66 and 15 per cent are over 70. The Government needs more young blood in this sector if it wants this country to have a sustainable and well-resourced taxi service. Otherwise, the taxi shortages currently being experienced by so many will only get worse."

Written by
Published on September 12, 2023