Pandemic drives taxis off the road
The coronavirus pandemic has driven dozens of taxis and private hire vehicles off the road in South Tyneside, figures suggest.
The National Private Hire and Taxi Association (NPHTA) said the huge drop in the number of licensed vehicles across England was because of the "sheer absence" of any financial support from Government for the industry.
Department for Transport figures show 480 vehicles were licensed to operate in South Tyneside at the end of March – 236 traditional taxis and 244 private hire vehicles.
That was down from 526 the year before, when there were 236 taxis and 290 private hire vehicles.
Nationally, the number of licensed vehicles decreased by 16% from 298,800 to 251,100 over the year.
David Lawrie, director of the NPHTA, said: "Due to the sheer absence of any financial support for the taxi and private hire industry, many have had to go on to benefits or found alternative work to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families.
"They feel they have been kicked into the long grass, and forgotten about completely."
He called on the Government to offer more targeted financial support for the trade.
The DfT figures show there were 4.5 taxis and private hire vehicles for every 1,000 people in England at the end of March – down from 5.3 in 2020.
At 3.2 per 1,000 people, South Tyneside has a rate below the national average.
A Government spokeswoman said: “The majority of taxi drivers are self-employed and can apply to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, and operating companies are eligible for local council grants.”