Source: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
THE NUMBER OF wheelchair accessible taxis has increased significantly since the start of the year, with more than 200 new licences for these vehicles added to the fleet as a direct result of government grants.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) issues grants each year to help taxi drivers with the cost of wheelchair accessible vehicles with an aim to ensuring a good supply all across the country.
In total there were 588 applications to the grant scheme, from every county except Longford. Funding was provided to applicants in 23 counties, but the NTA said applications from the counties of Leitrim and Sligo were not progressed to completion. The highest number of grants (161) were issued to drivers in Dublin.
The authority gave funding totalling €1,747,500 in 2017 with the size of the grant issued linked to the age of the vehicle being licensed.
As a direct result of the scheme, 233 new wheelchair accessible vehicle licences have been added to the fleet, together with 51 previously licensed WAVs being replaced.
The additional licences this year helped to bring the total number of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the fleet from 1,254 last year to 1,519 this year. Back in 2013 and 2014, the number was below 1,000 countrywide.
The scheme will open again in February 2018 with funding of up to €7,500 available depending on the age of the vehicle. It operates on a first come first served basis until all of the funding has been allocated.