A leading city businessman has blasted the capital’s nighttime taxis, describing them as “rude, lawless, dirty and embarrassing to Cardiff”.
Tim Corrigan, operations manager at a company which runs six popular city centre nightspots, last night called on the council to lift standards.
Taxi trade representatives, however, claimed passengers were often to blame for messy cabs and insisted cabbies do treat their customers with respect.
Mr Corrigan’s firm, The Chameleon Group, owns Mocka Lounge on Mill Lane, The North Star on North Road and The Vulcan Lounge in Cathays, as well as St Mary Street nightclub Crystal Boutique.
It has also recently opened two new restaurants: The Potted Pig on the High Street and The Meating Place on St Mary Street.
Mr Corrigan, who first made his feelings known on Twitter, yesterday told the Echo: “I just think they should be monitored properly.
“We have a lot of international visitors to the city and there should be a lot more pride in our taxi service.
“At night they pick and choose who they pick up, If they don’t think they are going to make enough money they won’t pick you up.”
The former Soda Bar owner said private hire taxis, such as Premier, Capitol Cabs and Dragon Taxis, were “clean and professional”, but the standard of hail-and-ride cabs dropped after dark.
“There is a distinct lack of English, they sometimes don’t know where they are going and they try and do deals for cash,” Mr Corrigan said.
“You go to any other major city in the world and you will find taxi drivers are professional, clean and know where they are going.”
Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association chairman Mathab Khan hit back, saying: “There are drivers who cherry pick (fares), but what he says about the condition of cabs is ridiculous. Does he want a limousine?
“We have got people in Cardiff who actually think taxis are a restaurant – they buy fast food and then eat it in our taxis. If we tell them to stop they get angry and violent.
“Our vehicles start off clean inside and out, but the passengers come in with their mud, food or dog mess – it’s the punters that use the cabs at night that should be educated.”
Abdi Ahmed, of the Union of Taxi Drivers, said: “In defence of the council they are doing a lot of routine checks of drivers to make sure they are safe and clean.
“We are also working with the council and trying to root our those drivers who are cherry pricking fares, which I completely disagree with.”
Councillor Ed Bridges, chairman of the public protection committee, said a taxi drivers’ code of conduct had been agreed and talks to put it on display at ranks or inside cabs were continuing.