Amid claims of taxi drivers overcharging passengers and demanding they pay more for “extra luggage” or air conditioning, the Director of the Barbados Transport Authority Alex Linton has warning offending operators to cease and desist as they are in breach of the law.
But Secretary of the Barbados Transport Cooperative Society (BTCS), Anthony Harewood, has insisted that taxi operators should be allowed to charge a higher fare in some circumstances, in the same way that airlines charge extra for additional luggage.
He also complained that while the authorities are demanding that drivers charge by the book, fares have not been increased in years, despite rising operational costs.
In warning taxi drivers against acting in contravention of the law, Linton made specific reference to Section 79 (5) of the Road Traffic Regulations which states that “the driver of a hackney carriage, maxi-taxi or taxi who demands a fare in excess of that set out in the Second Schedule is guilty of an offence”.
However, Harewood said he supported the practice of drivers who charge an extra fee for heavy or large bags, stopping along the journey or having to wait on passengers.
While the law does allow for taxi drivers to charge a passenger for making the driver wait, it does not sanction the other positions of the BTCS secretary.
Section 80 (1) facilitates payment for waiting or going further than the customer originally intended, but it still only permits fares based on a stipulated distance as outlined in the Second Schedule of the same regulations.
The regulations also allow a maxi taxi (ZM) to charge no more than one and a half times the fare provided for on the tariff list.
The Road Traffic Regulations also demand that taxi drivers display, in a prominent place inside their vehicles, a statement of the prescribed fares.
Linton’s warning to taxi drivers not to operate outside the law also came on the heels of complaints by a retired Barbadian couple that they were overcharged by an airport taxi driver when they arrived in Barbados from Canada on August 22.
They claimed that on two previous occasions, when they used an airport taxi to get home near the St George Parish Church, they were charged $39 as advertised on the notice board at the airport.
However, when they arrived in the island last month, they were presented with a $79 bill immediately after leaving the airport.
They said after a verbal confrontation and their insistence that the driver return to the airport to query the fee, they were directed to another taxi whose driver charged $53.
Linton agreed that based on the distance to the couple’s home, a $39 fee was the correct charge. He promised to investigate the complaint and take whatever action was required.
The largest representative organization for tax drivers at the Grantley Adams International Airport – the Barbados Transport Cooperative Society – told Barbados TODAY it was also looking into the matter and would take “disciplinary” action against the driver if he was found to be guilty of any wrongdoing.
ALSO If you sign up for Barbados Today before independence you could WIN a 2014 Honda City! Go here for full details http://bit.ly/1oCHnej.