THOUSANDS of taxis are expected to leave the road for good next month because of strict regulations surrounding the replacement of old cars.
About 24% of taxis are due for replacement next year under new rules governing the safety of vehicles. However, driver representatives say the blanket rule is unfair and will force many drivers to quit.
According to John Ussher of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation (ITDF), at least half of those affected – about 2,500 – are unable to meet the cost of replacing cars and are expected to disappear from the road.
He added that while this may be construed as a welcome reduction in numbers, it will primarily hit full-time drivers as opposed to those who bought a plate to subsidise their income.
"It's already having an effect because people who will have to change in January say they will have to leave," said Usher. "It's very difficult to get financing so they are left with very little option and that is very sad."
The Commission for Taxi Regulation said taxi users expect consistent quality.
"Consumers expect to have consistency in terms of vehicle quality and age, particularly when they are paying the same fare and regularly point towards a disparity in quality of the fleet," it said.
Road Safety Authority statistics have shown that nearly half of all accidents in 2007 involved cars at least nine years old. However, the ITDF insists that one rule should not apply across the board.
"The deciding factor should be the condition of the vehicle, not the year of the vehicle," said Usher.