'No excuse' for not cleaning up your act, say taxi drivers
TAXI drivers have said there is no excuse for poor hygiene in the industry after a report found the number of complaints against cab drivers had doubled in one year.
Bad body odour and refusing to take a guide dog because he was hairy were among the reasons passengers filed complaints about drivers to the National Transport Authority.
Figures show there were 742 complaints from passengers last year to the NTA, up from 377 the year before.
Most of the complaints received related to driver conduct or fares, while some of the more serious ones were referred to gardai.
And while Taxi Driver Federation boss John Usher says any complaint is a disappointment, the number of complaints is small when the total number of taxi journeys is factored into the equation.
"There are around 45 million taxi journeys in Ireland each year and 742 complaints - while regrettable, is quite small," he told the Herald.
On the question of driver hygiene, Mr Usher said there was "no excuse for a driver not to be washed and clean with fresh clothes in this day and age".
The Herald spoke to taxi drivers at Heuston station to see what their opinion on the complaint level was.
"Water is plentiful and there is no reason why a driver can't be fresh and clean," said Johnny Madden. "Some passengers insist we take a certain route even if we suggest a quicker one, but you have to do what they ask you," he added.
"Customers have a right to complain, but when we get abuse who do we complain to?" Johnny asked.
Sean O'Donovan, who has been driving for 25 years, said there is no reason to refuse a blind passenger with a guide dog.
"And in relation to the route, you can suggest a quick route to a passenger, but it is their call in the end. I give them the options and let them decide, and that way everyone knows the score," he explained.
This was a view echoed by Jim Kelly, a driver for the last six years.
"People do get taken on long routes. You do hear of it happening and, of course, it is wrong, but there are a few bad eggs in every business and people do have a right to complain," he said.