Complaints against cabbies quadruple during the last year

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COMPLAINTS against black cab drivers have quadrupled in the last year, new figures have shown.

Passengers and fellow motorists have made nearly 200 complaints to the city council over instances including driving aggressively and being rude.

Some passengers said cabbies appeared to take “winding” routes that were longer than necessary.

Council officials received 196 complaints from the public in 2011, compared with 50 in 2010 and just 25 in 2009.

Recent changes to the system now allow booking office staff to be reported to the council, which could be linked to the rise.

The cab trade has called on the council to release details of each incident to reassure the public that the majority are minor.

Raymond Davidson, secretary of the Edinburgh Taxi Association, said: “The number of complaints for the last year appear to be very high, but in the trade we’ve certainly not seen anything major.

“I’ll certainly ask the council to allow us to see them in detail and I’m confident that many of these will be very minor.

“Far from anything serious, I would suggest a number of these could be down to a disagreement over the chosen route. Many drivers now have signs saying they will be more than happy to take the route that the passenger chooses.”

Mr Davidson said the standards in the trade are among the highest in the UK.

He added: “The standards are very high in the black cab trade in Edinburgh and the drivers will be among the best in the country, if not the best.

“We very often get people arriving from London who remark on the quality of the service we provide, and describing how rude cabbies are in London. The complaints rate in London is horrendous.”

Councillors on the regulatory committee said the ease of the complaints system could be a factor in the increase.

Louise Lang, vice-convener of the regulatory committee, said: “If passengers are unhappy they should absolutely complain, and the standards of service will only be maintained if problems are identified.

“I’ve always been impressed with how the companies deal with this, how quickly they act how seriously they take complaints.

“There’s been nothing that we’ve seen on the committee that has caused any great concern. If I get in a taxi I feel in good hands, and I believe many of the complaints will be because of the booking process or communication rather than anything more serious.”

A spokeswoman for the city council said: “Recording of complaints against taxis has undergone significant changes in recent months, which may account for the apparent discrepancy between this and previous years’ figures.

“It is also possible that our communication of ways to complain, such as by email, has encouraged greater numbers of people to submit complaints.”