The newly-formed Taxis for Ireland Coalition today wrote to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Transport calling on Government to acknowledge the extreme shortage of taxis in cities, towns and rural areas across Ireland and address the persistent crisis, which has been negatively impacting both the Irish public, and tourism and hospitality businesses for many years.
The Coalition, which includes the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, Restaurants Association of Ireland, Licensed Vintners’ Association, Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, Bolt and Uber among its members, came together in late 2023 to address shared concerns about the ongoing lack of taxi supply and the impact this iss having on the economy.
Taxi services form a significant part of Ireland’s public transport mix, especially during peak times and busy social periods such as the imminent Christmas season. However, feedback from taxi operators, business owners and members of the public indicates that availability of taxis is a perennial issue.
Four surveys commissioned this year by Coalition members – the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Uber, Bolt, and the Vintners Federation of Ireland – have found that customers, publicans and the wider public have a very poor view of the availability of taxis in Irish cities, towns and rural areas.
Significant findings from the four surveys include:
- 63.33% of publicans surveyed described their local taxi or hackney service as either poor or non-existent (VFI – September 2023).
- 81% of people believe that the availability of public transport at off-peak periods is poor, or at best, average (RedC – July 2023).
- 7 out of 10 people across Ireland find it difficult to get home from pubs and restaurants in their area (RedC – July 2023).
- From a survey of over 1000 people in urban Ireland, 58% agree there is a taxi shortage in Ireland, and 60% of regular taxi users were doing so for night-time socialising (Bounce Insights – March 2023).
- From a sample of over 1,000 people, 68% of those who either took or attempted to take a taxi in the last three months said that action should be taken to increase the number of taxis (YouGov – January 2023).
Pat Crotty, CEO, Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) stated “Across the entire country the lack of taxis is impacting publicans who find it almost impossible to get customers home. Many of our members are forced to operate an informal taxi service, particularly in rural areas, but this is not a sustainable position. Compounding the issue is our consumer research which reveals people are avoiding nights out because of the hassle with taxis late at night. We need a service that allows a more flexible solution that works for both drivers and customers.”
Elaine Fitzgerald Kane, Chair, Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (ITIC) noted “All transport, including taxis, are important to international tourists to the country for both city visits and the regions. Increasing the taxi supply so that vehicles are readily available is important.”
Seán Forde, Owner, The Ballymore Inn, and Restaurants Association of Ireland Member noted “Customers having to cancel dinner reservations in local restaurants because there are no taxis available to collect them afterwards is unforgivable – but this is happening every day in rural communities across Ireland. The situation is particularly frustrating when restaurant owners witness a greater supply of taxis in other markets.
Donall O’Keeffe, CEO, Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) commented, “The shortage of taxis for the late-night economy, particularly at weekends, is damaging for the Dublin pub trade generally and is particularly serious for late bars/nightclubs. It impacts business as customers are worried about the difficulty in getting a taxi, customers are leaving pubs and late bars earlier than they would like to be sure of getting a taxi, and it ruins customers’ nights out if there are huge delays in getting a taxi home. Accordingly, the shortage of taxis is a real issue for our members. There is no doubt that greater taxi availability, especially over weekend nights, would really facilitate the late-night economy over the longer-term”.
Kieran Harte, Head of Ireland at Uber highlighted “The growth in the use of apps to book taxis and hackneys over the past decade has seen the number of drivers and vehicles in the industry significantly rise in nearly every international market Uber operates. However, in Ireland, the number of available vehicles has actually decreased by 15% over the same decade. By enabling more drivers and their vehicles to be part of the industry we can provide safe and reliable transport for our citizens at peak times and in less connected areas.”
The Coalition acknowledges the work of the NTA in this area, noting particularly the regulations to extend the maximum age of taxis and increase fares, as well as the driver recruitment campaign. However, these initiatives have not resulted in an increase in taxi availability, particularly at peak times, nor enhanced taxi availability in rural areas. If not addressed as a matter of urgency, the issue of taxi supply will continue to have serious economic, social, and reputational impacts. Insufficient taxi supply, throughout the day but particularly at peak times, results in less choice for consumers, and reduced income for local businesses.