Digital Desk Staff
Taxi drivers failing to correctly wear face coverings were among the complaints filed with the National Transport Authority (NTA) in 2021.
As the Irish Examiner reports, drivers were also reprimanded for dropping passengers in the wrong locations and for charging extra to passengers who wanted to pay by card instead of cash.
In all, 378 complaints were filed against taxi drivers in Ireland in the 12 months to November 2021, according to new figures.
That figure is reduced from the 466 received in 2020, and further reduced again from the 1,383 complaints lodged in 2019, the last full year prior to the pandemic.
Over 160 of the complaints this year related to the conduct, behaviour or identification of the driver in question, according to the records released under freedom of information.
One such complaint saw a passenger allege the driver was wearing his face mask below his chin. When the man adjusted his mask, it still remained below his nose. The driver in that case received a formal notification from the NTA regarding face-covering regulations.
Another complaint regarding driver conduct saw a passenger report a journey which saw them request transport to an emergency department, only for them to be dropped at the wrong part of the hospital. A fine ensued for the driver in question.
There are a total of 18,800 licenced taxis in Ireland, and 25,400 licenced drivers. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, those drivers undertook roughly 20 million passenger journeys per year.
While the Covid regulations requiring face coverings in confined public spaces apply to taxis, they are not specific to the industry, meaning that complaints are initially relaid to the driver in question. Any subsequent complaint is a matter for the gardaí, the NTA said.
It added, however, that it is not a legal requirement for taxis to be fitted with the partition screens commonly seen in such vehicles since the onset of the pandemic.
Among the other complaints included a case where passengers were told by their driver that a surcharge would apply to their fare because they wished to pay by card. The driver was cautioned following an investigation.
One other instance in which the investigation remains ongoing saw a passenger pay €47.50 for their journey to a hotel, the staff of which subsequently told them that the fare should have been nearly €20 less.