An over-abundance of taxis on Watford’s roads is leading to unhappiness from passengers and drivers alike, a report has said.
A survey of the state of the town’s hackney carriage and private hire services found that residents considered taxi drivers to be more focused on their fares than service.
One respondent to the report, commissioned by Watford Borough Council, even raised concerns about cabbies falling asleep at the wheel.
However, taxi drivers have said too many licences have been granted forcing them to work longer hours to make ends meet.
The main taxi driver association in Watford has also backed proposals to re-introduce a limit on the number of licences in the town.
The release of the report comes as the borough council, which oversees taxi licensing, prepares to debate how the service should be regulated in the future.
This week the council has launched a consultation asking people their views on the town’s overall taxi service.
According to the traffic consultancy firm CTS Traffic & Transportation, which carried out the survey, the number of hackney carriages on Watford’s streets had increased fourfold since the removal of the licences cap in 2006.
At the time of the survey there were over 400 taxis in Watford, with 303 hackney carriages and 115 private hires.
The report said that Watford had the highest ratio of taxis provision compared to population in Hertfordshire.
The survey said that taxi ranks in the town were over-crowded and in general seeing less custom then when last assessed in 2001.
However, when the company surveyed members of the public the main issues raised were about the services from taxi drivers, with one responder raising concerns about cabbies falling asleep at the wheel.
The report said: “In general, the main issues people had were need for better service from the drivers.
“For the first time in a study of this nature, one person stated they preferred if drivers did not fall asleep at the wheel.
“Some 6 per cent were concerned they had been refused short journeys.”
When surveyed taxi drivers also said they were also unhappy with the situation in Watford, saying over-supply was forcing them to work longer to earn enough money.
The sentiments in the report were backed by Shafiq Ahmed, the chairman of the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association.
He said: “There is no unmet demand in Watford and therefore drivers are struggling to make a living.
“We strongly want a cap at the moment.”
The reported concluded that there was no significant unmet demand for cabs and there is a large over supply of hackney carriages in the town.
It also said that public support for taxi drivers in Watford was eroding as passengers felt service was diminishing as drivers become more focussed on making a living.
Next month councillors will have to decide to whether to cap the number of cabs on the roads or try to reduce growth in taxi numbers by other changes to licensing policy.