The record number of complaints about taxi drivers last year was related to the introduction of a new regulation obliging licensees to accept non-cash payments for journeys, reports RTE.
New figures released by the National Transport Authority, which acts as the taxi industry’s regulator, show it received a total of 1,625 complaints in 2022.
This represents a nearly threefold increase in the number of complaints received in 2021, while this was a 17% increase from the previous record annual total of 1,383 in 2019.
The NTA said the increase in complaints was “mainly due to the introduction of a new requirement in September 2022 for taxi drivers to provide cashless payment terminals for fares,” reports RTE.
It argued that the ordinance caused the category of complaints “overcharging and other matters relating to fares” to account for almost half of all complaints filed last year – a total of 793 cases.
The second most common category of complaints concerned driver behavior and detection, accounting for 481 complaints, or 30% of the total.
Complaints about the condition and roadworthiness of taxis fell by almost 50% to 42 at pre-pandemic levels.
The NTA said 40% of the complaints resulted in the driver being fined, warned, advised or prosecuted, reports RTE.
Meanwhile, the number of taxi drivers in Ireland has fallen by almost 7% to almost 25,400 since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest figures show that at the end of 2022 there were 1,835 fewer taxi and other SPSV drivers than in March 2020.
A total of 25,393 active SPSV licenses were registered last year – a decrease of 6.7% since the outbreak of the pandemic – with around 60% of drivers holding licenses to operate taxi services.
This means there are now 22,000 fewer taxi drivers in Ireland than at a peak of 47,529 in May 2009.
The latest statistics also confirm the aging of taxi drivers aged 50 and over
Only 660 drivers – just 2.6% of the total – are under 32, while 14% of all drivers are over 68.
“The figures indicate that a career in taxi driving may be popular as a second career, post-retirement,” the NTA said, reports RTE.
The regulator said most applicants who took and failed the taxi and other SPSV entrance exams did not take the test a second time.
However, NTA statistics show that candidates take an average of 2.8 tests before they pass.
Last year, over 2,460 candidates took the exam.
Despite the decline in the number of people working in the taxi industry, the size of the domestic fleet increased by about 2% last year.
A total of EUR 1.32 million in grants was made available in 2022, allowing the addition of 231 new taxis and 81 replacement vehicles.
The NTA found the percentage of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the Irish fleet at over 17% compared very favorably to other similarly regulated countries.
The regulator also noted a 75% increase in applications for the subsidy program for electric SPSV last year, reports RTE.
However, the NTA said only 636 applicants received funding worth €11.9 million as the others were unable to procure a vehicle before the end of the year due to international supply chain constraints.
“Climate, energy and geopolitical challenges have caused long delays in the delivery of new vehicles in Ireland, as well as rising prices for used vehicles, preventing some from entering the fleet,” the NTA said, RTE reports.
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