London

Call to scrap current London cab driver Knowledge test

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Media captionTaxi driver: "We're better drivers, we have to pass a professional test"

The test that all black-cab drivers in London must pass to secure a licence should be scrapped in its current form, according to the Conservatives.

The Greater London Authority Conservatives called the test - known as the Knowledge - "archaic" and a "major barrier" to recruitment.

The exam requires drivers to learn 25,000 street names.

Drivers' representatives said they were "stunned and shocked" by the suggestion.

The Saving An Icon report by Richard Tracey found black-cab drivers needed to make "fundamental changes" to keep up with the "increasingly popular app-based private hire firms" in an expanding city, and said it should be cut down by two-thirds.

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Image caption The Conservatives said the black-cab industry needed to be updated to compete with app-based companies such as Uber

The Knowledge

  • Drivers must study every possible route through the capital
  • It covers 320 routes, 25,000 streets and approximately 20,000 landmarks and places of public interest
  • It takes between two and four years to learn
  • Alongside tourist destinations drivers must also remember the locations of museums, parks, police stations, churches, theatres and schools
  • After passing a written exam and several oral tests, drivers can get a licence.

He said the Knowledge was outdated in a world of GPS navigation, expensive, and could take people on average three years to complete.

"The examinations imposed are overly comprehensive in a time of GPS navigation, and the cost of purchasing the designated Hackney Carriage is a barrier to entry in an industry which is also rapidly ageing," he added.

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But Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said: "I'm stunned and shocked that anybody would suggest doing anything that altered or lowered the standard of taxi driving.

"However, that does not mean that we wouldn't be prepared to review some issues... with the proviso that standards wouldn't be dropped."

Taxi driver Nick, from Hertford, called the proposed move "devastating".

"It would be a huge backward step," he said.

"For a forward-thinking city, why would you not want a very high standard of taxis? The only reason they would do would be to [bow] to the pressure of Uber."

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