Results of the Whitehorse taxi survey, released Tuesday, come as bylaw officials work on drafting a new bylaw governing taxis and other vehicles for hire. ((CBC))

Whitehorse's taxi industry has received low marks from the people who use it, according to the results of a city survey that found most customers have strong concerns about their safety in city cabs.

Results of the survey, which were presented to city council on Tuesday night, reveal customers' dissatisfaction with conditions in local taxis.

Whitehorse's bylaw department commissioned an independent consultant in April to survey taxi company owners, members of the public and organizations about what they thought of taxi service in the city.

"Seventy-eight per cent in the public survey and 84 [per cent] in the focus groups stated that the industry was either fair or poor," acting bylaw chief Dave Pruden said Tuesday. "Those are some pretty strong numbers."

Illegal activity alleged

Pruden said survey respondents alleged illegal activity such as drug dealing, delivering alcohol to minors and even sexual harassment taking place in cabs.

As well, the majority of respondents said they want stricter vehicle inspections and bans on smoking and using cellphones inside taxis.

City officials hope to introduce a new bylaw governing vehicles for hire in the coming months. Pruden said he hopes the survey will help city council in implementing that bylaw.

Pruden said he also hopes the city and the local taxi industry can develop a declaration of driver and passenger rights.

'No one's perfect'

Ron Pumphrey, a driver with Quality Cabs, said the survey shows Whitehorse's taxi industry has much work to do to improve its public image.

"We try and present ourselves to the public in a positive way. We try and provide a positive experience. No one's perfect," Pumphrey told CBC News on Wednesday.

"There's always going to be to be flaws, but you have to try and strive for personal excellence."

Pumphrey said when it comes to safety and hygiene issues, he hopes the city's new bylaw will ensure a level playing field for all taxi companies.

For example, he said some companies still allow smoking inside their taxis, even though that is against the law.

Having a new bylaw that addresses such issues will help repair the taxi industry's image, Pumphrey said.