TLE The London Economic

Should UBER Drivers Be Required to Pass ‘The Knowledge’?

Three-hundred and twenty routes, 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks; that’s what you have to master to become a Green badge holder.

The Knowledge is a test that is as synonymous to London taxi drivers as the black cabs they drive. Regarded as one of the hardest taxi driver test to pass in the World it has been described as like having an atlas of London implanted into your brain, taking months to pass and years to master. 

But the traditional test, which was established in 1865 and has changed little since, is in danger of becoming a remnant of the past.

UBER drivers, who rely on little more than a smartphone and a satnav to work the streets of London, have circumnavigated traditional licensing laws because the peer-to-peer network they use falls into a loophole. But they may not get away with it for long.

So-called “bureaucratic new rules” from Transport for London have prompted UBER to send a message to their London-based clientele asking them to write directly to Sadiq Khan to look again at TfL’s plans. 

According to the email, the new rules require: 

  • Drivers from non-English speaking countries to pass a two-hour written English exam costing £200. We support spoken English skills, but this exam is harder than the test for British citizenship
  • Part-time private hire drivers – like parents who only drive during term time – to have costly commercial insurance for the months they are not driving
  • Uber to inform TfL before we make changes to our app – which will slow down the roll-out of new features.

If London cabbies are required to take months-long tests to gain ‘the knowledge’, is it unfair to ask UBER drivers to speak a proficient level of English? That is the argument for proponents of the new legislation that is set to be introduced by Tfl.

However, in this day and age, is ‘The Knowledge’ actually necessary? As the auto-email reads to Sadiq Khan:

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1 Response

  1. Arr Too Thee Pee O

    Uber thinks a test that 9 to 11 year olds can pass would mean thousands of Uber drivers losing their jobs (reassuring, huh?). So how on earth would they be able to even last a few weeks at doing the knowledge? They couldn’t.

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