Taxi firms urging Executive to make it easier for drivers to enter the industry

Taxi firms are calling on the Executive to make it easier for drivers to enter the industry.

They say that new rules have made it harder to get a taxi licence, stifling recruitment.

Eamonn O'Donnell from North West Taxi Proprietors has seen the first hand impact of these rules.

"There was a problem before the pandemic and it has now been made much worse since the pandemic.

"What we have is right across the board, we're about 30% down in taxi drivers across the industry.

Eamonn O'Donnell says the lack of drivers is having a huge hit on the industry. Credit: UTV

"I asked one taxi office for an account of how their weekend went. They had over 11,000 missed calls over the weekend," Eamonn explained.

"I asked one of the bigger Belfast companies and they had over 14,000 missed calls on the Saturday night."

"From a customer service point of view it's a disaster for the taxi industry," he added.

Responding to the issue, the Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said:

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon Credit: UTV

"We reopened the driver testing as soon as we could in terms of the Executive's easement of restrictions so there have been tests carried out for new taxi drivers.

"I'm also of the view that a number of taxi drivers have possibly held back on taking the test or renewing their license because they want to see the impact of the reopening of the economy and how that would impact on them.

"But of course, we will continue to work with the industry and I will continue to work with all my colleagues as we put the industry on a stable footing."