Taxi drivers

Taxi drivers sanctioned for not wearing the mask correctly

Taxi drivers who did not wear face coverings correctly were among the complaints made to the National Transport Authority (NTA) in 2021.

Drivers were also reprimanded for dropping off passengers at the wrong place and for charging extra fees to passengers who wanted to pay by card instead of cash.

A total of 378 complaints were made against taxi drivers in Ireland in the 12 months to November 2021, according to new figures.

This figure is reduced from the 466 received in 2020, and further reduced from the 1,383 complaints filed in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic.

More than 160 of the complaints this year concerned the driving, behavior or identification of the driver in question, according to records released under Freedom of Information.

One such complaint saw a passenger allege that the driver wore his face mask under his chin. When the man adjusted his mask, it was still under his nose. The driver in this case received official notification from the NTA regarding face covering regulations.

Another driver conduct complaint saw a passenger report a trip that saw him request transport to an emergency department, only to be dropped off in the wrong part of the hospital. A fine was imposed on the driver in question.

There are a total of 18,800 licensed taxis in Ireland and 25,400 licensed drivers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, these drivers performed around 20 million passenger journeys per year.

Although Covid regulations requiring face coverings in confined public spaces apply to taxis, they are not industry-specific, meaning complaints are escalated to the driver in question first. Any subsequent complaints are up to the gardaí, the NTA said.

He added, however, that it is not a legal requirement for taxis to be fitted with the divider screens commonly seen in such vehicles since the start of the pandemic.

Other issues

Other complaints included a case where passengers were told by their driver that a surcharge would apply to their fare because they wanted to pay by card. The driver was warned following an investigation.

Another case in which the investigation is still ongoing saw a passenger pay €47.50 for their journey to a hotel, which was then told by staff that the fare should have been almost €20 lower.

A complaint, which saw the driver fined, saw the taxi refuse to accept a guide dog because the driver was allergic to dogs, a statement which saw the passenger ask for supporting documents as proof of that.

In terms of vehicle MOTs, drivers received complaints throughout 2021 for doors that wouldn’t open, power windows that didn’t work and, in one case, an exhaust that “had the seem to struggle”.

In all cases, the vehicles concerned then passed a technical inspection.

In terms of overcharging, only two complaints received seem to have been accepted by the NTA.