South East Wales

'Rise' in Cardiff taxis refusing passengers after appeal

Taxis queuing in rank
Image caption Hackney carriages cannot refuse fares, but the rules are different for private hire vehicles

Reports of taxi drivers refusing short-distance fares in Cardiff have spiked after a safety campaign following three sex attacks.

The issue was raised after passengers claimed they were turned away, despite advice not to walk alone at night.

Since 28 September, Cardiff council has received 70 reports concerning hackney carriages and is investigating.

The city's hackney cabs association has denied claims some drivers have turned people away for short-distance trips.

A council spokesman said this was a "big increase" on the usually low number of complaints about drivers.

In response, the council has put mystery shoppers on duty to test drivers during the remaining Rugby World Cup games in Cardiff.

Image copyright Cardiff council/Facebook
Image caption The council launched a social media campaign on 28 September encouraging people to report taxi fare refusals

A council spokesman said it was looking into the recent complaints and where there was a case to do so, it would take the matter to court.

He urged those wishing to make a complaint to include the driver/cab number and where and when the refusal happened when reporting it to the authority, after it received several reports via social media it was unable to follow up.

Councillor Jacqueline Parry, chairwoman of Cardiff's licensing committee, said: "If you are getting a taxi from a taxi rank, the light is on and the fare starts and ends within Cardiff, the driver has to take you home and must use the meter. It is as simple as that.

"The take up on social media channels has been very encouraging and we want to give a firm message to everyone that they have to report this incidents to us, with the relevant information so we are able to take action."

But Mathab Khan, chairman of the Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association, insists the scale of the problem has been blown out of proportion.

He said drivers had taken tens of thousands of passengers during Rugby World Cup matches since 28 September and there had been only a "handful" of complaints.

He added drivers had the right to refuse fares in some instances, such as when a passenger has drunk excessive alcohol and said the council "inviting complaints was unnecessary".

"99.9% of the drivers are doing a great job," he said.

"It's illegal [to refuse a fare] and we always tell them [drivers] don't refuse fares, especially because there are young people that are vulnerable who don't know their way around Cardiff, and the response of the drivers has been very positive."

Private hire taxi firms can refuse short distances.

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