Bolton has lost more than 200 taxis over the last two years, according to government figures.

It comes as the  trade was hit hard by the pandemic and lockdown restrictions since March 2020, with a total of 237 fewer private higher vehicles on the road as of March this year.

Fewer people travelling and visiting along with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis have all been citied as factors behind driving taxis off the road.

Cllr Rabiya Jiva said: “I think we’ve got to address this in terms of demographics, with working from home having increased, so that’s clearly going to have an impact.”

She added: “But it can be a Catch-22 situation because we’ve also got the cost-of-living crisis, inflation going up like crazy, so maybe people are going out less so that’s going to impact on the night time economy and on the private higher trade.”

The figures show that there are currently 1,401 private hire vehicles in Bolton compared to 1,638 before the first lockdown hit.

This marked a slight recovery from last year, when there were just 1,169 on the roads around Bolton but still meant the numbers were well behind where they had been before lockdown.

Cllr Jiva felt that the regeneration of the town itself could prove to be vital to the taxi trade’s prospects.

She said: “If we bring up that regeneration and how we can bring people back to Bolton then absolutely that’s something we can look at.

“People might catch the train to Bolton and for example take a taxi to Horwich so that’s definetly something that can be good for the trade.”

The picture in Bolton was replicated across the country where the number of total licenses has dropped from 376,700 in 2020 to 341,300

GMB regional organiser Steve Garelick said: "Taxi driving has got more expensive in recent years, and licensing isn't helping to support drivers.

"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."