Taxi complaints jump as passengers raise a stink about smelly vehicles

Complaints about dirt and defects double; drivers are biggest cause of unhappiness

Taxi complaints: one passenger wondered if the car’s indicators were broken after being asked to open the window and indicate manually. Photograph: Eric Luke

Taxi complaints: one passenger wondered if the car’s indicators were broken after being asked to open the window and indicate manually. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The number of taxi passengers who complained to the National Transport Authority rose by 15 per cent in 2017 – and the number who complained about the vehicle they had just travelled in more than doubled.

Last year the authority received 1,146 complaints about taxis or their drivers, up from 998 in 2016. The biggest increase was in the number of complaints about the condition and cleanliness of the taxi, which jumped from 34 to 72.

In one case, last July, a passenger complained that the inside of the car was “absolutely filthy. Every gap on the dash and controls was caked with dust. Seat covers were visibly stained all over.” The authority fined the driver.

A passenger of a different taxi reported a “stench on entering the car – had to open and keep the window open for the journey”. The authority inspected the vehicle but found no evidence of an offence.

The biggest area of dissatisfaction was the behaviour and identification of taxi drivers, which accounted for 445 complaints. A further 380 were made about alleged overcharging and other fare issues; 248 were made about the hiring and booking of taxis; a complaint was also received about the identification of taxis.

Rules of the road

One passenger believed a taxi had no working indicators after being asked to indicate manually out of the window. No evidence of an offence was found.

In August another passenger complained: “There was a brake warning light on the dashboard that had been covered with a sticker and another engine light that had been covered with a piece of black tape.” The authority identified a serious fault with the vehicle; it was fixed by a dealership.

One taxi driver was allegedly unfamiliar with the rules of the road, as “he did not look right when coming to roundabouts” and drove behind other cars with his full headlights on.

Another charged €43 for a trip from Dublin Airport that usually cost €25 after taking a “significant detour”. The driver apologised and refunded the €43.

A different driver told a passenger he could not print a receipt. The passenger “told him (nicely) that he shouldn’t be driving a taxi and picking up fares without being able to give a printed receipt. At this point he stopped the taxi and told me to get out. He was extremely angry, and as he drove off honked his horn at me but had dumped me halfway to my destination.” The driver was fined after admitting the offence.

The figures were released in response to a Freedom of Information request.