Wednesday 28 September 2016

'Frightening' drivers and 'filthy, dirty' cabs among taxi complaints

Gordon Deegan

Published 30/03/2016 | 02:30

Concerns over driver behaviour accounted for more than half of complaints involving taxis to the National Transport Authority last year. Stock Image
Concerns over driver behaviour accounted for more than half of complaints involving taxis to the National Transport Authority last year. Stock Image

Concerns over driver behaviour accounted for more than half of complaints involving taxis to the National Transport Authority last year.

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And a small number of customers even felt "frightened" by taxi driver behaviour, a breakdown of complaints revealed.

In one case, a hotel worker said that a taxi-driver told the worker to "f*** off" several times and that he would "see me on Monday night when I am alone".

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the NTA confirmed that the number of taxi complaints last year totalled 928. This compared to 952 complaints in 2014.

Complaints over taxi driver behaviour totalled 491 last year - or 53pc of complaints - with 53 complaints over vehicle condition.

One passenger wrote to the NTA to complain that there was hair everywhere in a very dirty and filthy taxi "and a smell I can only describe as 'days-old sweat'."

The complainant said: "Papers, books, receipts and food in the foot areas of the rear seats …The brakes on the car were gone and squeaking every time the driver hit the brakes."

In that case, the driver admitted that the car was in poor condition and took it out of service.

Another passenger complaining about the state of a taxi said that "the car was like a fridge and the seats felt damp, when I got out I realised that the car was missing the entire large glass panel at the rear that forms part of the boot underneath the rear windscreen".

The outcome was that the vehicle was repaired and then inspected. The NTA stated: "All found to be in order. Advice given."

Another complainant wrote to the NTA about a taxi driver who could not find his way to an address in Portmarnock and who started shouting to a "frightened" and "intimidated" passenger.

The driver reportedly said: "If you live there long enough, you should know! Everyone expects taxi drivers to know every road. It is a huge area!"

The outcome of that complaint was that advice was given to driver. The driver denied being aggressive but did offer to reimburse the difference in the fare.

The second highest area of complaint related to fare matters, accounting for 297 or 32pc of complaints.

The NTA also received 83 complaints relating to 'hiring matters' and four in relation to identification.

In only 2pc of complaints did the NRA issue a fixed payment notice while in another 2pc, drivers were warned of their behaviour.

The NTA stated that 202 complaints were last year referred to the gardaí - not necessarily based upon the gravity of the offence, merely the nature of the complaint.

Irish Independent

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