London private hire drivers 'don't need written test', mayor told

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Image caption,
London Assembly members voted 15-0 for a motion to replace the written test with a cheaper verbal language test

Essay writing should not form part of the licensing requirements for private hire drivers, politicians have said.

In a motion signed earlier, 15 London Assembly members unanimously agreed that passing a written English test was an unnecessary requirement for drivers.

Of greater importance, they said, was the ability to communicate verbally, the London Evening Standard reported.

They want London Mayor Sadiq Khan to replace the written test with an oral one that costs £25 compared to £180.

Assembly member Florence Eshalomi, who proposed the motion, said: "It is of course vital that taxi drivers can communicate with their passengers in English."

She said the high cost of the written test seemed disproportionate, especially as drivers would also be required to pass an advanced driving test too at a further cost of £149.

"In addition, every time a driver isn't on the road they are losing pay," she added.

"There are other tests which could be used that cost just £25. It's time for the mayor to look into other options - what we don't want to see is people losing their livelihoods."

Court ruling

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Image caption,
Uber lost its court case challenging the need for drivers to sit a written language test

Private hire drivers have until 30 September to obtain the English Language Requirement certificate or they face having their licence revoked or refused by Transport for London (TfL).

Ride-hailing app firm Uber lost a court case earlier this month challenging the need for drivers to sit the test.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: "Drivers being able to speak English is a vital part of ensuring passengers get the high standard of service they need and deserve.

"This could include discussing a better route or talking about a medical condition, but also includes written considerations like understanding new regulations, licensing requirements or changes to the law."

Tom Elvidge, Uber general manager in London said: "We've always supported spoken English skills, but writing an essay has nothing to do with communicating with passengers.

"With Transport for London estimating more than 33,000 private hire drivers will lose their livelihoods, we hope the mayor will think again. This new rule is unfair, discriminatory and unnecessary."

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