The truth is, many of us have taken a chartered taxi at one point or the other.
For those who regularly take these taxis, it is apparent that each taxi driver seems to have their own protocol for travel, leaving each passenger with a feeling of uncertainty every time they enter a new vehicle.
What will they charge me this time? What if I want to make a stop at the ATM? How much will I have to pay for the stop?
But, is it supposed to be like this?
Our Today sat down with a member of the Jamaica Association of Hackney & Contract Carriages Limited to find out the truth behind the protocol of chartered taxis.
Here it is.
When traveling, have you ever had to pay a different price to go the same route?
According to our source, each taxi company is entitled to have their own stamp to get from Place A to Place B. Therefore, the price to travel in an On Time Taxi or El Shaddai Taxi may differ from the price to travel in a Travelr taxi.
However, when travelling in a taxi from the same company, the prices should not be differing constantly with each driver.
If you find this to be happening too often, every passenger is allowed to ask the driver for a stamp. In fact, the process should be conducted on speaker and heard by the passenger.
The person who answers the request for a stamp should be a fellow taxi driver who is recognised as the designated stamp person.
Do you find yourself paying different prices for a stop?
Naturally, a passenger may often find themselves asking the driver for a stop at the ATM, a quick item pick up or even to use the bathroom.
“The driver is only allowed to charge extra if the stop lasts more than 5 minutes,” said our source at the Jamaica Association of Hackney & Contract Carriages Limited, “and even then I don’t expect it to be more than $100 or $200″.
If it takes an hour or more, the driver is allowed to charge up to $1,500 for such a stop.
However, what should not be done is that a driver charges you for two trips when you are simply making a stop while on one trip.
Therefore, it is recommended that this is sorted out between you and your driver before driving off.
If you find that this is how they intend to charge you, it is best to take another taxi or have it straightened out with the base of operations of the taxi company.
Do taxi drivers get trained in passenger etiquette?
Yes, fortunately they do.
Our source shared that the Transport Authority, Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the Grenell’s Driving School will sometimes host workshops and seminars on how to treat passengers travelling in their vehicle.
So if you have ever had a bad experience with a taxi driver, it is not for lack of training.
Are chartered taxis allowed to pick up passengers on the road?
Yes, they are.
If a taxi is driving and someone on the road calls to them, they are legally allowed to transport that person, given they are not on another call.
If another passenger happens to be in the car, it is only with the permission of that passenger that the driver can pick up another person.
What if something, such as a robbery or a crash, happens while a person is travelling in a taxi?
Once you are travelling in a licensed public transport vehicle, once any of these things happen, the passenger and driver are insured.
If these protocols are breached, what should I do?
If you are travelling in a chartered taxi, and you feel your rights have been compromised in any way, it is advised that you call the company that the taxi is associated with.
Once the call is made, the passenger can ask to speak to the supervisor or managing director. It is always best to get a licence plate and a name when making the report.
If the particular taxi company does not respond favourably, then you can take further action and call or email the Transport Authority.
Our source mentioned that this procedure can also be taken with route taxis. Once you get the licence plate, you can file a complaint with the Transport Authority and they will have the driver brought in for clarification and correction.