Northumberland private hire fleet grows

People in Northumberland have more private hire vehicles to get them around than before the pandemic, new figures show.
Taxi numbers.Taxi numbers.
Taxi numbers.

Department for Transport figures show there were 369 private hire vehicles in the area as of March – up from 323 the year before and more than in March 2020.

But the figures also show the number of taxis in the area has continued to fall – to 461 in the last year, from 642 in 2017.

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In all, there are now 1,365 licences for taxi and private hire drivers in the area – below the number in 2020.

Just 71 taxis were wheelchair accessible, while only 30 private hire vehicles offered disabled access.

Nationally, the total number of private vehicles increased in the last year following a significant drop in 2021 – though it is still well below the number of vehicles on the roads before the pandemic.

There were 236,000 private hire vehicles in 2020, dropping to 197,000 last year before rebounding to 208,000 this year.

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Nationally, the number of taxi licenses has dropped from 376,700 in 2020 to 341,300.

The GMB Union says running taxis and pre-booked cars has become more expensive due to a "perfect storm" of problems, including the cost-of-living crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and licensing issues.

Steve Garelick, GMB regional organiser, said: "Taxi driving has got more expensive in recent years. Whether it is fuel costs, or how expensive electric vehicles are, overheads are a struggle.

"Through the pandemic, many moved into other industries, and only now is demand picking back up fully, and drivers returning."