Can taxi drivers refuse fares?

You’ve had a big night out or maybe you’ve just finished the late shift at work.

Either way, you’re not driving home – you’re lined up for a taxi but have you ever wondered whether a taxi can refuse to take you to your destination because the fare’s too cheap?

Yahoo News Australia spoke with NSW Taxi Council Deputy CEO Nick Abrahim to find the answer.

And the short answer is no, but there are reasons a cabbie can legitimately turn you down based on where you plan on heading.

A Sydney taxi driver in discussion with a passenger. Source: Getty Images (file pic)
A taxi driver can turn down a fare but not because it is too close or deemed to be cheap. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

“A taxi driver can turn down your fare if it’s seen as outside their area of operation – for example if you want to go from Sydney Airport to Newcastle,” Mr Abrahim said.

“However, a driver would be pretty crazy to turn down that fare.”

Last week, video emerged of a cab driver appearing to fake a heart attack.

His passenger claimed he didn’t want to drive her from Sydney Airport to Annandale, about 10 kilometres away.

The rights of taxi passengers

  • Passengers can choose to have the air conditioning on or off along with the radio.

  • A driver has to display their identification so the passenger can see it.

  • Passengers can decide on the route the taxi driver takes.

Mr Abrahim said the other reason a driver can refuse to drive you to a certain destination is if they are “terminating their shift” and it’s not in the direction they are heading.

He added a passenger can “generally tell” if a driver is legitimately finishing their shift but if they are concerned about anything they can always report it.

A passenger is seen leaving a Sydney taxi in Paddington, NSW after paying his fare.
Cab drivers can refuse service for a number of different reasons. Pictured is a taxi on Sydney's Oxford Street. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

“It can be difficult getting details outside of a car but as a minimum we need the company and their t-plate number,” Mr Abrahim said.

“Inside a taxi, every driver has to have their ID displayed.”

All taxis have attached tracking devices.

Mr Abrahim said the council wants to hear about issues people are having with taxis.

“We want people to have a positive experience every time they’re in a taxi,” he said.

“We need to hold drivers responsible and stamp these issues out.”

Transport NSW lists all the rights of passengers travelling in taxis.

Other reasons a taxi driver can refuse a fare

  • If a passenger is carrying an object which might damage or soil the vehicle, clothing or luggage of passengers or the driver. Also, if this object is likely to cause inconvenience, annoyance or nuisance to those in the cab.

  • If a passenger is under the age of one and neither the passengers or the driver have the appropriate seating with child restraints.

  • If the passenger is drinking alcohol or smoking and refuses to stop.

  • If the driver believes the passenger won’t be able to pay the estimated fare.

Mr Abrahim earlier this month addressed the issue of taxi drivers caught with card skimming devices in their cars.

A Sydney passenger explained how he almost lost $790 from a taxi skimming scam.

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