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Dodgy tips, aggressive drivers, "smelly" vehicles - taxi complaints went through the roof in the last four years

More than half of the complaints made last year concerned the behaviour of taxi drivers.

File Photo Three taxi drivers who challenged the deregulation of the taxi market in 2000 have lost their case in the High Court. The drivers argued that the sudden deregulation of the market had reduced the value of taxi plates from almost 100,000 euro to Source: Rollingnews.ie

COMPLAINTS AGAINST IRISH taxi drivers have increased by a huge extent in the last four years.

Figures released by the National Transport Authority (NTA) under freedom of information indicate an increase of 170% in the number of complaints made in 2015 versus 2011.

In fact, the total of 928 complaints made last year was slightly lower than the number made in 2014 (346 such complaints were made in 2011).

fig 1 Source: NTA

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Over half of the complaints made relate to driver conduct, with 32% of reports made concerning issues over fares.

fig 2 Source: NTA

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Almost 58% of complaints received no further action. 29% of cases saw “advice given” to the taxi driver in question. 2% of cases lead to fixed payment notices (fines, basically), and a further 2% of cases saw official warnings given to the drivers in question.

fig 3 Source: NTA

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22% of cases were referred externally to other bodies such as An Garda Síochána or the Department of Transport. This is not an indication of the severity of the complaint however, but rather of the suitability of the other body to deal with said complaint – eg the gardaí are best placed to deal with road traffic issues.

26/2/2014 New Luas Lines Construction Source: Mark Stedman

Complaints regarding vehicle condition

53 complaints were received by the NTA regarding the condition of taxis in 2015.

  • One customer complained of a “dirty and filthy” taxi which smelt of “days old sweat”. When the driver was consulted he admitted that his car had been in poor condition and that he had taken it out of service
  • Another customer spoke of a “filthy dirty” vehicle which was also “a little smelly”. This vehicle was inspected and found to be “not up to the required standard”. The driver was issued with a “rectification notice” and warned as to his “duties and responsibilities as a driver”.
  • Another complaint saw a customer complain of a car with “lots of clutter and dirty rags in it”. “The car smelled very bad and had a pungent air freshener.” In this case the vehicle was found to be in good repair  and had been recently valeted. Advice was given to the driver.

Complaints regarding driver conduct

491 complaints were received regarding driver conduct, more than half of all submissions made by aggrieved customers.

File Photo Three taxi drivers who challenged the deregulation of the taxi market in 2000 have lost their case in the High Court. The drivers argued that the sudden deregulation of the market had reduced the value of taxi plates from almost 100,000 euro to Source: Rollingnews.ie

  • In September 2015 a customer asked his taxi driver not to park outside the hotel he was staying in. In response, the customer alleged that they were called “a c**t” and “a pr**k” and told to f**k off several times. The taxi driver then allegedly told the customer that he would see the customer “on Monday night when I am alone”. Upon investigation “advice was given” to the driver, who was issued with “a reminder of his duties and responsibilities”.
  • In July 2015 a driver refused to take a fare for between Harcourt Street and Grand Canal Street. When he heard the destination from the customer he told them that he was “booked” and made them get out. The customer expressed herself “annoyed” at not being able to secure a lift home because the fare was deemed to be too small. However, she declined to provide evidence which would have supported a prosecution.
  • In October 2015 a driver in Dublin told a customer to approach another taxi rather than his own. The other taxi refused to take the fare as he was awaiting another customer. This led the driver of the first taxi to get out of his car and “roar” at the other driver “in the most aggressive manner I have ever witnessed” to “take these people” or to move on immediately. He then reached into the other taxi, grabbed the car keys, and threw them “onto the middle of Dame Street”. He then told the customer to get into his own vehicle, but they refused. The driver was issued with a formal warning by the NTA and admitted in an interview that his behaviour was unacceptable.

15/1/2014. Taxi Drivers Protests Source: Rollingnews.ie

Complaint regarding overcharging

  • In October 2015 a taxi driver in Dublin added €9 to his fare for no reason, according to the customer. In an interview with the driver he claimed that he had been instructed to add a tip. He was then informed that adding such a tip to a fare is not officially acceptable. The driver offered to refund the tip, which the customer said should be given to charity, as it “wasn’t about the money”. Once more, “advice was given” to the driver.

Complaint regarding refusal of fare

  • In December 2015 a female taxi driver was hailed by two young men. When informed where they wished to go she replied “no way” and “sped off dangerously”. The customer suggested that the driver “needs to learn manners”. The driver was subsequently issued with a fixed payment notice for an unreasonable refusal to carry a passenger. The driver freely admitted declining the fare, saying that she had “some trouble with young men previously”.

Read: ‘Fake taxi’ driver ‘lucky to avoid jail’ for continuing to drive vehicle after being banned

Read: “Your organs are no use to anyone in the ground” – a donor’s kindness has given this girl her life back

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