Saturday 18 November 2017

Student (21) refused by 12 taxis outside popular Dublin nightclub 'because journey home was too short'

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Kathleen O'Sullivan

A woman claimed she was refused a drive home by a total of 12 taxis after a night out in Dublin recently.

Lauren, (21) from Artane, Co. Dublin was out last Saturday night in the capital with her friend when she was refused to be driven home due to the distance between the nightclub and her area being too short and the fare only costing €20.

Speaking to Joe Duffy on RTE Liveline this week, Lauren, who is in university studying to be a teacher, spoke of how she spent 45 minutes approaching 12 taxis in the early hours of the morning after leaving the popular venue Copper Face Jacks. All of the drivers of the taxis refused to drive her home for the same reason.

Lauren decided to go home at approximately 3.00am.

"I walked up and down Harcourt Street looking for a taxi. Every single taxi I approached had their window down about an inch, two inches max."

She explained that the taxis were available for hire, one or two of the taxis had the lights on and one or two of them had the lights off.

Lauren proceeded to approach the first taxi and asked the driver if he was free to give her a lift home. The driver responded saying he was free but it depended on where she was going.

She told him where she was going and according to Lauren he responded saying, "that’s not enough of a fare, no sorry, that’s only €20."

She then approached the next 11 taxis where she received the same response as she did from the first driver.

One taxi driver she approached, who, rather than accepted to drive her home due to the fare being only €20 once again, even told her that if she walked down a lane opposite the nightclub, it would only take five minutes and she may get a taxi at either end.

She responded with the fact that she was a 21 year old girl and was surprised that he would even expect her to walk down this lane at night.

After this incident, Lauren looked up the taxi regulations on the National Transport Authority (NTA) website.

By law, a taxi driver cannot unreasonably refuse a journey that is less than 30km.

RTE'S Joe Duffy raised the point that her fare cost approximately two hours of minimum wage earnings, and that these drivers refused €20 cash into hand.

As this had happened before to Lauren on a night out previously, she was aware of what actions to take if it happened again.

"This isn’t the first time this has happened. It happened to me on a night out before a few months ago. When I eventually got a taxi, the guy that I got in the taxi with said ‘why don’t you take pictures of the reg plates and license number?’

"So I took pictures of every single one of them."

Lauren made it clear that the taxis were available for hire and the only reason she was refused a drive was due to the fare being too little and the drivers wanted to wait for longer journeys that were more expensive.

Lauren said she has contacted the NTA and received a response saying that if this incident did happen, there can be a ‘penalty fee’ for the drivers and that it can be taken to court if they do not pay the fee, but she is afraid of taking it that far.

Mr. Dermot O’Gara, Head of Public Affairs for the NTA, told Independent.ie;

"Where there are reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has been committed in a case such as this, a Fixed Payment Notice may be issued to the taxi driver.

"For an offence of ‘unreasonable refusal to carry a passenger’, the Fixed Payment Notice penalty is €80 (Rising to €120, if not paid within 28 days).

"Failure to pay the Fixed Payment Notice will result in the matter being prosecuted at the District Court.

"Any person, who has been ‘refused’ without good reason can submit a complaint to the National Transport Authority through the Transport for Ireland website," he continued.

"All complaints, which contain sufficient information to indicate that there has been a breach of the regulations, are investigated by the Authority."

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