Pandemic cuts Sunderland’s private hire fleet

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Taxi numbers.

Department for Transport figures show there were 318 private hire vehicles in the city in March, up from 288 the previous year, but below 400 in March 2020.

The figures also show that the number of taxis in the region reversed the trend to 303 last year – but below the 346 before the pandemic.

In total, there are now 737 licenses for taxi and VTC drivers in the region – down from 1,694 in 2020.

Only 148 taxis were wheelchair accessible, while 29 private hire vehicles offered disabled access.

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Nationally, the total number of private vehicles has increased over the past year after a significant decline in 2021 – although it is still well below the number of vehicles on the roads before the pandemic.

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

Nationally, the number of taxi licenses has increased 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 issues including the cost of living crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and licensing issues.

GMB Regional Organizer Steve Garelick said: “Taxi driving has become more expensive in recent years. Whether it’s fuel costs or the cost of electric vehicles, overhead is an issue.

“During the pandemic, many have moved to other industries, and only now is demand fully picking up and drivers returning.”

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