Figures released by the National Transport Authority have revealed that the number of complaints lodged against taxi services in Ireland is rising. Nathan Davies explores the statistics behind the rising complaints.
The figures cover complaints lodged against all Small Public Service Vehicle (SPSV) licensed drivers. This includes all taxi, hackney, limousine, and dispatch operator services in the country.
The statistics from the National Transport Authority (NTA) show that 1,383 complaints were filed with the NTA in the year of 2019. This number is larger than the previous year which stood at 1,310.
In fact, every year on record that has been published by the NTA has seen a higher number of complaints than the year before it.
Complaints in the year of 2015 stood at just 928, meaning that there has been a 50% rise in official complaints in the past five years.
Figures from 2020 have not been finalised yet, however early numbers suggest that the trend is continuing, with complaints filed in January and February of 2020 being higher than the respective months in 2019.
The figures released by the NTA come as part of the “complaints procedure” introduced with the Taxi Regulation Act 2013. The legislation requires that the NTA receives and lodges any SPSV-related complaints under the following categories:
a) Condition, roadworthiness, and cleanliness,
b) Conduct, behaviour, and identification of a driver,
c) Overcharging or other matters related to fares charged by the driver,
d) Matters relating to hiring and booking,
e) Identification and the general appearance of the vehicle.
The total number of complaints are divided into these five categories and reveal that fare matters and driver behaviour are the most common reason a complaint is made. Here is a breakdown of the specific complaints over the past five years:
More than three quarters of all complaints lodged relate to issues with either fares or driver behaviour. While driver behaviour has been the most reported issue, the number of complaints have remained stable over the five year period. In contrast, the number of fare and hiring complaints have risen dramatically, with hiring complaints more than tripling in five years.
When questioned by TheCity.ie on the statistics, NTA representative Dermot O’Gara suggested that the rise in numbers was due to an improved complaint-lodging system introduced in 2014:
“Improved contact forms have made it easier for consumers to submit compliments or complaints about taxi services nationwide” he said.
“This, together with enhanced consumer education, have had a positive impact leading to an increase in both the compliments and complaints received.”
While it is true that easier access to complaint forms would increase numbers, this does not explain the continued rise over several years. This also fails to explain why some complaints are increasing faster than others. With no figures on SPSV compliments being released it is also impossible to compare the two to see any correlation.