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Europe's taxi tested: alarming results

Date

10 Oct 2011

Sections

Transport

Expensive detours of up to 213 percent compared to the most direct route, speed violations exceeding the limit by up to 42km/h (in the city!), red light violations, aggressive driving, drivers swearing about traffic and complaining about passengers using taxis for short trips. These are only some of the shortcomings observed by EuroTest inspectors who tested taxi journeys across 22 major cities in Europe.

“Taxis provide door-to-door mobility and are vital for many including the disabled, elderly, tourists, etc. It is therefore a source of great concern that taxi passengers still have to experience sub-standard services in many European cities” said Jacob Bangsgaard, Director General of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Brussels office, which represents 71 automobile clubs across Europe.

CITY RANKINGS

Not one city received a “Very Good” rating, while the inspectors awarded seven “Good” and eight “Acceptable” ratings (see notes to the Editor for an explanation of ratings and methodology used). Six cities were rated “Poor”. One “Very Poor” rating was given to Ljubljana in Slovenia that came last in the cities’ ranking.

•    Very Good: 0

•    Good: 7 (Barcelona, Berlin, Cologne, Lisbon, Milan, Munich, Paris)

•    Acceptable: 8 (Brussels, Geneva, Hamburg, Oslo, Rotterdam, Salzburg, Zagreb, Zurich)

•    Poor: 6 (Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Madrid, Prague, Rome, Vienna)

•    Very Poor: 1 (Ljubljana)

BEST AND WORST SINGLE JOURNEY

The best single journey took place in Barcelona. The daytime trip from the airport to the main train station received almost full marks.

The worst journey was a daytime trip in Rome on route from the main train station to the exhibition center. In this case, the driver lost his way twice, resulting in a detour of almost 60 percent. He then demanded a whopping 69 Euro instead of the 62.90 Euro on the taximeter. This was much higher than the approximate 50 Euro which the most direct route costs according to the taxi price list. The taxi in question had no air-conditioning, but a very loud engine, a broken window and used tissues lying about.

DETOURS

All in all, 82 out of the 220 trips suffered from unnecessary detours. And in the case of short trips, the majority of detours were taken at night. The longest detour was a detour of 213 per cent compared to the most direct route on a journey in Hamburg.

COMMON SHORTCOMINGS

It all boils down to the driver! On top of the shortcomings already mentioned, it was also very difficult to communicate in English with half of the drivers; most were unable to provide information about tourist attractions and restaurants; drivers drove to the wrong destination or dropped the passenger off up to 500 meters away from the required destination. Not to mention drivers who refused trips because they were ‘within walking distance’ (to test drivers’ reactions one of the five journeys tested in each city was a short journey ranging from 1.1 to 2.1 kms across the different cities).

However, vehicles themselves also often leave a lot to be desired in terms of equipment and cleanliness. More than a third did not accept credit cards, and the fare sign, driver ID or company addresses were often missing. A few were also really untidy and the trunks were sometimes already full with other items, leaving no room for luggage.   

ALWAYS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

To be fair our inspectors did come across some excellent drivers in high standard vehicles who made the journey a pleasure. But a close look shows that even the good journeys did not meet all expectations of the test and that there is always room for improvement. This begins with the resolute weeding out of inadequate and unpleasant drivers, and continues with vehicle cleanliness, transparent fares and the acceptance of credit cards every time.

NOTES FOR THE EDITORS:

METHODOLOGY - HOW EUROTEST TESTED TAXIs:

The inspection of taxi services in the 22 European cities was undertaken during the period between 2 May and 17 June 2011.

Armed with a checklist, Sat Nav and a camera, the inspectors travelled incognito along five typical and comparable routes in each city. Each route was inspected twice: once during the daytime and once at night. In total that adds up to a test of 220 single journeys.

The checklist was broken down into the following main categories: “Driver” (weighing 40% of total marks), “Vehicle” (20%) as well as “Adherence to route” (40%) and contained a total of 60 items for inspection across the three categories. The hidden Sat Nav device was used in order to record the route taken. This data was then compared with the matching reference routes provided by contacting taxi associations in order to evaluate adherence to correct routes (i.e. whether the driver actually took the shortest and hence cheapest route). The device was also used to record speed and traffic violations.

For a detailed list of results and explanation on the methodology visit: http://www.eurotestmobility.net

EUROTEST

Through EuroTest – an international testing programme for consumer protection, 18 automobile clubs in 17 countries, members of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), have been putting the quality and safety of mobility in Europe to the test since 2000 for the benefit of their members and all mobile consumers in Europe. The EuroTest partners have constantly called for a Europe where the mobile consumer can circulate freely using quality infrastructure and services safely.

For more information contact: Gabriel Simcic, Project Manager, FIA Region I, g.simcic@fiabrussels.com +32 2 282 0817 or Niall Carty, Communications Manager, FIA Region I, n.carty@fiabrussels.com +32 2 282 0812

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