Driver body odour among flood of complaints from taxi passengers
THE number of complaints about taxi drivers doubled last year and is continuing to rise.
Bad body odour and refusing to take a guide dog because he was hairy were among the reasons passengers filed complaints about drivers to the National Transport Authority.
Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show there were 742 complaints from passengers last year to the NTA, which also issued even more penalties following its own on-street inspections.
That was twice as many as the 377 complaints received the previous year.
Most of the complaints received related to driver conduct or fares while some of the more serious ones were referred to gardai.
In the first six months of this year some 425 complaints were received showing the numbers are continuing to rise.
In total the NTA investigated 1,167 complaints between January 2013 and June 2014.
Nearly half of these - 568 in total - related to driver conduct, the NTA said.
Disputes about fares generated some 375 complaints, 168 related to the hiring of a taxi, and 56 were about the condition of the vehicle.
The NTA said that prior to April 2014 when new legislation was introduced it did not have the power to formally sanction incidents of serious driver misconduct.
"As a result, through 2013 and up to April 2014, those making more serious complaints regarding driver misconduct were referred to An Garda Siochana", the NTA said.
Overall some 2pc of complaints it had received resulted in the issuing of fixed payment notice or a prosecution in court.
Both of these outcomes required the willingness of the complainant to be a potential witness in court.
Some 6pc of complaints were referred to the gardai or another office such as the Office of Tobacco Control if it related to smoking in the cab.
A quarter of complaints resulted in the offenders being advised with regard to the incident while almost half resulted in no further action, and 14pc are still under investigation.
In 4pc of cases a formal warning was issued to the driver.
The NTA said that compliance officers checked 11,455 individual taxi drivers and their vehicles last year.
Some 836 fixed payment notices were issued as a result of these inspections for a variety of offences.
"These 'on street' detections are separate from investigations into complaints but often the area and nature of these activities is informed by patterns of complaint behaviour," the NTA said.