Boost for black cab trade proposed by London's mayor

Black cab protest Image copyright PA
Image caption Black cabs have staged several protests against Uber

A raft of measures to support the black cab trade amid growing competition from private car hire services has been announced by London's mayor.

Sadiq Khan has pledged to increase the number of taxi ranks from 500 to 600 over four years and to open up 20 more bus lanes for use by cabbies.

He wants the Knowledge to be accredited as a formal qualification, allowing applicants to benefit from study loans.

In 2017 £5,000 grants will be available to scrap old and polluting taxis.

Transport for London (TfL) is also to feature taxi information in its online journey planners by summer 2017.

New rules

The plan demonstrates his intention to push ahead with new rules for private hire drivers such as Uber, the mayor's office said.

These include requiring drivers to pass an English test and more robust insurance regulations.

This would mean all drivers undergoing reading, writing and listening tests.

Earlier this month, Uber - which allows users to book and pay for a cab through a smartphone app - was given the green light for a High Court challenge against TfL over the language rule.

Uber, which is used by about two million Londoners, claimed the proposals would pile "extra costs and red tape" onto licensed private hire drivers.

Mr Khan said he was "determined to drive up standards and improve safety for every passenger in London, while protecting the future of our iconic black cabs that provide a unique and invaluable service for London".

The Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association said it welcomed the plan.

However, the RMT union, which represents taxi drivers, said it was "bitterly disappointed" that issues such as "illegal plying for hire and the abuse of the regulations" had not been tackled by the mayor.

Image copyright Alexander McBride Wilson

What is the Knowledge?

  • Dating back to 1865, the Knowledge is a study of the streets, routes and notable locations of London
  • Students of the Knowledge must know by heart the location of every street, theatre, pub, sport venue, embassy, hospital, tourist attraction, intersection and traffic light lying within a six-mile radius of the centre of London
  • Drivers must also memorise 320 different routes within this area
  • The average time it takes to learn the Knowledge is 3.5 years
  • About 75% who embark on the course give up

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