London’s Conservatives are suggesting that the Capital’s taxi drivers should no longer need to take the famous “Knowledge” test, because it is “outdated in a world of GPS navigation”.
A report by assembly member Richard Tracey called “Saving an Icon, Rescuing London’s Black Cabs from Extinction” includes a section which talks about technology, saying ” Those who attack Uber, Lyft and similar apps for bringing innovation to taxi services fail to see what the initial driver for these services is. The unavoidable fact is that, in the information age, passengers demand a digital, seamless service from their taxi providers. The taxi industry itself has apps that it uses, including Hailo and Gett, and TfL has developed apps such as Cabwise, which link passengers with licensed cab companies. New digital tools are something consumers clearly demand… The response to these apps from regulators and those in traditional industries should not be to directly oppose their operation created as they were by the demand of consumers but to adapt to their emergence.”
It calls the Knowledge – “archaic” and a “major barrier” for recruitment to the Black Cab industry.
The BBC reports that Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association reacted by saying, “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.”
He said having such rigorous standards meant drivers “valued” their licences and “they did not want to lose it”.
The BBC also quotes a taxi driver called Nick, from Hertford, who called the proposed move “devastating”. “It would be a huge backward step,” he told the organisation. “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.”