Figures show only 5% of licensed taxis around the country are wheelchair accessible

The Irish Taxi Drivers Federation says it is much more expensive to run a wheelchair accessible vehicle

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File photo. Image: RollingNews.ie

New figures released by the National Transport Authority (NTA) have revealed that only 5% of licensed taxis around the country are wheelchair-accessible.

Despite efforts to increase the amount of accessible vehicles on the road, their number has actually decreased by almost 40% since 2008.

According to the Central Statistics Office, 13% of the Irish population is currently living with a disability.

The NTA says it has renewed its focus on increasing the proportion of wheelchair accessible vehicles "by restricting new licences to wheelchair-accessible vehicles [and] by easing the size specifications required for a licence to bring the entry costs down".

The authority adds that grants of €871,000 added 134 wheelchair accessible vehicles to the taxi fleet in 2015.

President of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation, Joe Heron, spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the statistics.

"It's much more expensive to run a wheelchair accessible taxi than it is a saloon taxi," he explained.

"I think the problem was exacerbated in 2008 when it had the highest number of wheelchair accessible taxis - that was at the start of the slump. Since then, when things started to pick up in the economy, people got out of taxi work," he added.

The NTA figures also show that the number of active vehicle licences in the country fell slightly last year, down around 400 to 21,146.

However, 457 new vehicle licences were issued - the highest annual total since 2008.