Taxi scam: Regulator says check fares and always get receipt

Advice follows discovery of a ‘remote control’ scam which saw €9 illegally added to fares

A Dublin taxi driver  illegally increased each fare by €9 using a remote controlled device. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A Dublin taxi driver illegally increased each fare by €9 using a remote controlled device. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The National Transport Authority (NTA) says it is confident it has ended a scam which allowed a driver to illegally increase fares using a remote controlled device.

The scam emerged in Dublin District Court on Monday when taxi driver Robert Griffin (66) of Maplewood Park, Springfield, Tallaght, was fined €750 after he pleaded guilty to 280 counts of over-charging contrary to the Taxi Regulation Act.

According to the NTA, a vigilant passenger reported Griffin after noticing he had increased the fare.

The NTA, which regulates taxis, subsequently identified 206 taximeters that were sensitive to the remote controlled device, and all of these have now been recalled and replaced with new software.

A spokesman said taximeters could be sourced from anywhere and there was no ban on having a remote control.

However, all taximeters have to be certified by the National Standards Authority of Ireland’s office of Legal Meterology, based in Dublin.

The calibration of taximeters is retested every time there is a fare review that results in a change. The transport authority said there is a fare review every two years.

The most recent fare review was earlier this year, which resulted in a recommended increase in maximum fares of 4.5 per cent for next year.

This increase was to cover the costs associated with credit card payment facilities.

In Griffin’s case, the remote control was fixed to the driver’s door of the car and he could press the remote to increase the fare without the passenger seeing. He admitted the offence when his taxi was inspected at a rank outside Tallaght hospital.

Responding to questions from The Irish Times, the regulator advised the public to be vigilant when using a taxi, to agree a fare in advance if appropriate and always ask for a receipt.

National maximum taxi fares are detailed on the website of Transport for Ireland. They currently provide for standard, premium and special rates.

The standard applies from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday except public holidays and has an initial charge of €3.80, which covers the first half kilometre.

The next 14.5 kilometres or 41 minutes is called “tariff A” and charged at €1.14 per kilometre or 40 cent per minute. If the journey is longer “tariff B” applies, which increases the cost of further distances to €1.50 per kilometre or 53 cent per minute.

Premium rates apply from 8pm to 8am and start with a €4.20 initial charge, rising to a maximum of €1.80 per kilometre on tariff B. Special rates apply during December 24th to 26th and December 31st to January 1st. The full list of charges is available in detail on transportforireland.ie.