The taxi industry in Dundalk is on its knees with a lack of drivers making it all but impossible to get a taxi over the weekend in particular. A local publican has told the Dundalk Leader that it is simply not possible for their customers to get a taxi on a Saturday evening after 11pm and since the pubs re-opened last month many bar owners are being forced to drive their patrons home themselves.
A spokesperson for Seven’s Taxi’s in Dundalk confirmed that the industry is in crisis due to lack of drivers saying that many of them have simply not come back after being off during the worst of the pandemic.
“We would have had 35 cars pre-pandemic and we are down to about ten drivers now. Many of our older drivers don’t want to do nights anymore and they are happy enough getting their few hours during the day. As well as that there is simply no young people coming into the industry which means we are facing a crisis down the line when the current crop retire. It’s a huge problem around town at weekends with the pubs back open as you have every publican trying to empty his bar by 11:30 and ringing their local taxi rank all at the same time. We simply do not have the manpower to accommodate all these people and it doesn’t surprise me to hear that the publicans are having to do a few runs to leave their customers home.
“We are advertising every week looking for drivers but nobody is interested in getting into the industry. You have a lot of drivers who don’t do nights anymore as they consider it too dangerous especially in the wake of Martin Mulligan’s murder a few years ago. We are finding it very difficult to get drivers to work weekends and I can’t see that changing anytime soon. If anybody out there has their own car and wants a job I would ask them to give us a call because there is a severe shortage of drivers in town right now.
Similar sentiments were echoed by the owner of a second taxi operator in Dundalk who said that things have never been so bad in the industry.
“We are struggling like every other taxi operator around town to get drivers in and we lost a hell of a lot of men when the PUP payments came in in particular. They were getting more sitting at home than they would do driving the taxi so they were reluctant to come back,” he explained.
“Unfortunately the powers that be have ensured that people have to jump through hops if they want a taxi license and right now it would take a person at least eighteen months to get that license. They are making it too hard for people to pass the test and a taxi driver has to know the number of every single road be it big or small all over the county. There is no need to know the names of these roads religiously especially given the fact that everybody has access to sat-nav nowadays.
“Our driver numbers have halved over the last eighteen months and it’s hard to see us ever getting back up to the numbers we were at pre-pandemic. We are in a crisis and I’m not sure what the solution is,” he added.