Taxi drivers leave woman to walk home alone
By Andrew Merrell | 9th October 2018
Taxi drivers in Cheltenham have been chastised for refusing to take a young woman home in the early hours of the morning.
It is claimed the 23-year-old approached the taxi rank "not excessively in drink", but because she wanted to travel a short-distance drivers refused.
Volunteer group street safety group Cheltenham Guardians highlighted the woman's plight on Facebook and it led to a storm which has found its way to the doors of the borough council which issues the licences for taxi drivers.
It was members of the Guardians who made sure Agata Cybulska got home safely on the night in question.
"An incident last night has caused us concern and we shall be escalating this to the local authority.
"Shortly after 5am this morning a young lady on her own attempted to take a taxi home from the Promenade taxi rank. Due to the fact that her home was approximately one mile away the driver(s) concerned refused the fare," said the Guardians' Facebook post.
"The lady in question was not excessively in drink and was in full control of her faculties. There was no reason not to take her. Taxi drivers are bound by law to take a fare as long as the request is reasonable. This was a reasonable request.
"The queue of taxis on the Promenade rank post 5 am was huge and we appreciate and understand that any driver making the short journey would have to re-join the back of the queue. This can never be a reason for refusal.
"The lady informed us she was scared on her own and did not want to walk through town. Thankfully our team became involved in this incident and facilitated transport home for her ourselves.
"We have a positive relationship with many of Cheltenham's taxi drivers and in the past we have been in a position to help each other out. We have seen taxi drivers go above and beyond what is required of them at our request and for this we're very grateful.
"However, we would like to remind drivers that they have a duty of care to service users and safety and security can never be compromised."
Ms Cybulska went on-line to underline to have her say: "I honestly cannot thank you enough especially the lady and gent at Cheltenham Guardians who took me home and made sure I was safe when seen me walking alone late at night through town.
"I tried two different taxi drivers who all refused to take me because the journey was too short and they wouldn't make much money and would have to re-join the queue.
"When I said 'are you going to let a 23-year-old female walk home on her own at this time?' they closed the window and pulled forward. I've got the reg of one of the taxis if that helps. But again thank you so much for taking me home and making sure I was okay."
Scores piled in to add their comments on-line.
Sheridan Hawkins, just one of those who posted, said: "It is appalling what that taxi driver has done. The Guardians are amazing and I'm so thankful they are around at night.
"As a parent, it reassures me when I know my child goes out at night. If I were that young girl, I would donate the money she intended to pay for the taxi to the Cheltenham Guardians instead."
Vicky Cheevers, said: "I've had that happen to me a couple of times - once at the train station after the last train back from London which was late so about 11pm and I just kept getting passed onto the taxi behind until one was willing to take me.
"Ridiculous as I was on my own, dark, new to town, had luggage. Has happened on the prom too - I used to live not far from where those attacks happened on the honeybourne line so yes not far to walk but there was no way I was walking home at 2am in the dark on my own while that was all going on!"
Carl Smith said: "This is shocking, I am a private hire driver and have never refused a fair no matter the distance if it is assigned by the company I'd take it.
"I'd do the same if I was a hackney driver. Good on you for reporting it up to cbc. Drivers like this give us a bad name."
Louis Krog licensing team leader at the borough council, said: "Taxi drivers are not allowed to refuse a fare if the journey starts and ends within the district, irrespective of how short a distance a fare may be.
"We would encourage the lady in question to contact us to assist us in identifying the taxi in question to enable us to take the appropriate action. We expect all our licensed taxis to operate in a way that is compliant with their legal obligation and local policies and byelaws."
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