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Bad smell, sticky handles and refusal to carry a guide dog among complaints about Ireland’s taxis

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An “appalling” smell, sticky door handles, and a driver’s refusal to allow a blind passenger’s guide dog in his cab were among hundreds of complaints received by the taxi regulator in the past eight months.

The largest number of complaints received by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to date this year related to overcharging and other matters relating to fares, while drivers failing to wear face coverings was also a recurring issue.

A total of 439 formal complaints were made by taxi passengers during the first six months of 2022, compared to 560 for the full year in 2021.

The condition and cleanliness of vehicles has been the subject of 14 complaints this year.

One passenger reported that “the back seats were stained, the smell from the taxi was appalling”.

They told the NTA that they had to keep the windows open “the whole way home” due to the odour inside the cab.

The vehicle was referred for inspection and the problem was rectified, according to the transport authority.

Another passenger complained that a taxi driver had refused to take their guide dog in a cab earlier this year. The driver was subsequently fined by the NTA.

A number of complaints since November 2021 related to drivers’ failure to wear face coverings in public service vehicles, which was mandatory between December 2020 and February 2022.

One passenger complained that a driver had failed to wear a mask and “continued to cough during the journey”, while another wore no mask and insisted on the windows being closed. He became “irritated” when asked to use a face covering.

Another driver was described as “rude” and “spoke his opinion on coronavirus” while failing to wear a face mask.

There was no screen separating from his passengers.

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In each of these cases, the NTA sent a formal notification of the relevant regulations to the driver. It said subsequent complaints would be notified to An Garda Síochána.

A spokesperson for the transport authority noted that the number of complaints received related to an industry comprised of 18,900 licensed vehicles and more than 25,400 licensed drivers.

Last year, 49pc of complaints did not proceed following investigation.

The reasons for this included mistake or misunderstanding on the part of the complainant, a complainant deciding not to pursue the matter, and a lack of evidence of any offence by the driver.

The spokesperson also noted that the number of complaints received by the NTA had fallen substantially from 1,383 in 2019 to 560 last year. However, this is likely to have been influenced by a reduction in the number of journeys during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The details of complaints received by the taxi regulator since last November were contained in records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.


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