One smoking taxi driver and a taxi that had “an offensive smell” with “tatty” seats are just two of the 629 complaints received by the National Transport Authority (NTA) concerning taxis in the first six months of this year.
Overall, the number of complaints lodged with the NTA against taxi drivers between January and the end of June surged by 28% to 629 from the 492 complaints received for the corresponding period last year.
The sharpest rise concerned fare matters where the number of complaints increased by 45% going from 168 to 244.
The NTA received the same amount of complaints - 244 - concerning driver behaviour in the first six months.
An additional 19 complaints were received in respect of vehicle condition with 120 complaints received in relation to hiring matters and two over identification.
One female passenger complained about a taxi driver over the interaction with him when paying an €8.80 fare along with a 70c tip with 5 20c coins and the rest in 2c coins and 1c coins.
Another passenger in February complained to the NTA that “this was the dirtiest taxi I’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting it. It looked like it had never been cleaned”.
In response, the NTA issued a fixed payment notice to the driver for failing to comply with vehicle standards - fixed payment notices generally range from €40 to €80 depending on the nature of the breach.
In another case in February, a passenger complained to the NTA that the “condition of the taxi was unacceptable for a public service vehicle, offensive smell within the taxi requiring us to wind the windows down, car was old and seats were tatty”.
In that instance, no case was proceeded with as there was no evidence of any offence. The NTA reported that the vehicle had undergone licence renewal inspection shortly after complaint.
In another case, a passenger complained that “the taxi was unfit for business due to the strong level of odour” and as a result the NTA issued advice to the licence holder concerning vehicle cleanliness.
In March, a passenger complained that a driver was smoking in the vehicle and the complaint was referred under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act.
In April, a passenger complained that a taxi was ‘filthy and sounded very rattely”.
The case was not proceeded with as there was no response from the complainant when contacted and the vehicle was no longer being operated by the driver.
Another passenger in May pointed out that his daughter is a wheelchair user and the taxi-driver didn’t put a seat-belt on her.
The father pointed out that “when this brought to the attention of the driver he argued that she didn’t need one. No journey taken”.
In response the NTA issued a Fixed Payment Notice to the driver for failing to comply with vehicle standards.
In May a passenger complained that the smell inside the cab “was awful” and that the taxi “was in a terrible condition”.
In that case, the NTA issued a caution - the vehicle was inspected and found to be in good condition aside from requiring some additional cleaning.
The same month, a passenger complained that both the front and back seats in a taxi were ‘filthy’ and “the floor space at the back needs a good hoovering and the seats need a deep clean”.
In response, the NTA inspected the car and the issue was resolved with advice given to the taxi holder.
In June, a passenger complained that a taxi “was very dirty inside and outside. Smell of cigarettes in it as well”.
In January, one passenger complained that “there was a bad odour in the taxi. My friend was sitting beside the driver. As the taxi driver approached the lights, my friend realised her trousers were wet”.
Another passenger complained that he had to open a window on a cold day as the taxi was smelly and there was also “dog hair - I think - on seats”.
In June, a passenger complained the back seat covers of a taxi “were ripped and filthy dirty and the car was generally dirty”. In response the NTA issued advice to the licence holders and the seat covers were replaced.
In the case of the female passenger who paid over €9.50 - including a 70c tip - in 2c coins, 1c coins and five 20c coins, the woman reported the taxi driver saying ‘What are you giving me?” and she replied the fare and tip and he said: “I don’t want it. I have enough change here.”
She replied - “Are you refusing to take the fare or tip?” and told him ‘My husband drives a taxi and if I thought he was this rude to anyone, I would be disgusted”.
In response, the taxi driver replied: “Well then, you should know better!"
The woman remarked on his rudeness and he told her that she was rude, to get out of the taxi and close the door.
The case against the taxi driver was not proceeded with as there was no evidence of any offence.