Belfast Telegraph

Number of taxi drivers in Northern Ireland falls 10% in a year

By Michael Sheils McNamee

The number of taxi licences in Northern Ireland has fallen by 10% in the past year.

At the end of September a total of 10,660 taxis were operating across the province, continuing a downward trend over recent years which the Department for Infrastructure says may have been sparked by an update to the test for drivers.

The total number of licences held are down nearly a third since 2013, when the total number stood at 15,802.

A decline in drivers is mirrored in the falling number of operators, the total number of which has fallen to 1,406 since 2014.

The vast majority of these (85%) are classed as small operators, where only two taxis can be listed on a licence.

In a quarterly report released on Thursday, the Department cites the updated test - which replaced the old PSV test - as the possible reason for the decline.

Introduced in October 2014, the test had a pass rate of 25.3% in the third quarter of 2018 - although it was a slight increase of 0.6% on the previous quarter.

The length of time taxi licences are issued for varies, and the test is required to be taken by first time applicants or anyone whose licence has been lapsed for two years.

Theory test pass rate

Taxi driver licence figures rates are included as part of a wide-ranging quarterly release from the Department for Infrastructure on driving in Northern Ireland.

Despite a slight increase more than half of all driving theory tests taken in Northern Ireland continue to result in failure, new figures have shown.

In the three months between July and September in the number of tests there was a 0.4% increase compared to the previous three months - leaving the pass rate at 46% overall.

Potential motorists are required to pass the theory test ahead of taking the practical test, with it based around knowledge of road safety and identifying road hazards.

The figure is a long way adrift of high points of previous years, and is more than 15% below the 2012/13 peak of 62.7%.

Those looking for an easier route through the test might do well to consider a two-wheeled option.

Thursday's figures show the pass rate for motorcycles at 69.6% - although this is related to the fact most of those taking the test will have already passed the private car test.

Looking at an average over the past year, the continuation of a five-year trend of women hitting a higher pass rate than men can be seen, with the female pass rate at 48.8% compared to 45.1% for men.

A total of 15,000 driving test applications were submitted between July and September 2018, an increase of 0.2% on the same period in 2017.

In this same period there was a slight decrease in the number of tests carried out, falling by 0.4% to around 14.400.

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