Updated test to blame for 10% drop in Northern Ireland taxi licences, says Department
The number of taxi licences in Northern Ireland has fallen by 10% in the past year, figures published by the Department for Infrastructure have revealed.
At the end of September a total of 10,660 taxis were operating across the province - according to the latest quarterly report released yesterday.
The Department for Infrastructure said the figures showed a continued downward trend over recent years.
The decrease could be attributed to an update to the test for drivers, explained the department, which replaced the former PSV test.
Introduced in October 2014, the current 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.
Also according to the statistics, the total number of licences held by taxi drivers is 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.
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.
Taxi driver licence figures rates are included as part of a wide-ranging release issued every three months from DfI on driving as a whole in Northern Ireland.
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, and more than half of all driving theory tests taken in Northern Ireland continue to result in failure.
In the three months between July and September there was a 0.4% increase in the number of theory tests taking place 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%.
Meanwhile, the pass rate for motorcycles is 69.6% - although the reasonably high rate can be explained by the fact many opting for two wheels will have already passed the private car test.
There is also a continuation of a five-year trend of women out-performing men, with the female driving licence pass rate at 48.8% compared to 45.1% for males.