TAXI drivers will be told to smarten up and not turn away passengers under a new code of conduct drawn up by Cardiff council.
The more than 2,000 drivers working in the capital will be expected to sign up to the proposed Cardiff Taxi Driver Code. It follows complaints from passengers about overcharging, rudeness, dirty or unsafe cabs and refusals to be hired.
Cardiff’s transport boss said cabbies were ambassadors for the city and it was important they gave visitors a good first impression.
However, the scheme was last night labelled unnecessary by taxi trade representatives who instead called for more enforcement by licensing officers.
The list of pledges on the driver code includes:
being clean and tidily dressed, with their badge visible at all times;
greet passengers in a friendly way and offer help with luggage;
don’t turn passengers away without good reason; and
drivers will use the meter on all journeys within Cardiff.
An alternative code for passengers will also go before the council’s public protection committee next week. It tells passengers to treat drivers with respect and to behave in a civil manner.
Licensed drivers would be expected to sign up to the code, which will be promoted by the council, when they renew their licence.
But the Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association, which represents hail-and-ride cabs, claims it will not improve standards.
Association chairman Mathab Khan said a small minority of about 60 drivers are responsible for the majority of complaints and are tarnishing the trade.
The biggest issue, he said, is drivers who cherry pick big-money fares by refusing passengers looking to make short journeys within Cardiff.
“Introducing a new policy or code of conduct to control drivers will not work, what we need is enforcement,” Mr Khan said.
“The licensing department is not doing enough and, as a result, more drivers are doing silly things than ever before and they are getting away with it.”
Lack of English skills, rather than being untidy, is another issue, Mr Khan added.
Taxi driver Safir Hussain, 58, from Roath, said: “We have very professional drivers in Cardiff who take pride in their work and I think the council should concentrate on helping us get jobs rather than these rules. I have lost £350 this week as it is very quiet. As for the guidelines, I think we have already got very good driving standards in Cardiff.”
Dragon Taxis managing director Gareth Owen said his firm had its own code of conduct and drivers who do not adhere to it are warned or sacked.
But he too doubted that the council’s new initiative would raise standards.
“Probably 95% of all drivers are providing a very professional service, but the 5% who are in it for themselves do not care about passengers and will avoid the code,” Mr Owen said.
Councillor Delme Bowen, Cardiff’s executive member for transport, welcomed moves to improve the look and response of drivers.
“We have hundreds of thousands of visitors and very often the first person they will meet is a bus or taxi driver. Drivers can act as ambassadors and it’s important to give a good welcome to Cardiff,” he said.