When somebody keeps kicking you in the testicles and that person then asks how they can help stop your testicles from hurting the simple response would be for you to say "stop kicking me in the balls." Last week Transport for London (TfL) met with a number of trade unions and stakeholders from within the taxi industry to ask how the regulator could best help promote the Knowledge. This question has led to a widespread raising of eyebrows and scratching of communal heads from within the industry as to the motives behind this question.
Grant Davis of the LCDC went further than some and actively stated what a large proportion of us were thinking when he said that felt he personally insulted by this question. It could be argued that the regulator has completely disincentivised the Knowledge by allowing the Private Hire (PH) industry to reap all of the rewards that are afforded to taxi drivers without putting any of the effort in to obtain those rewards, they have had an easy ride, ably assisted by TfL themselves. Maybe the question TfL should really be asking is, how do TfL undo the damage that has been caused? To promote any industry you first have to make sure that the industry is a viable and vibrant one. TFL asking what they can do to promote the Knowledge is a noble, but ultimately useless platitude if they are only prepared to talk the talk and not walk the walk. Fewer students are entering into the taxi industry where it requires two to three years of study and then a massive investment directly afterwards in running the business itself. The industry's own regulator have facilitated a system whereby all a person has to do to become a PH driver is simply sign up and then start work immediately with no qualifications, training or investment. To be serious about reconciliation with the taxi industry, then TfL must act now, no more talk, no more kicking the industry in the balls. TfL must get all of the trade representatives as well as stakeholders in the industry around a table NOW, so as to thrash out a clear, equitable and viable long-term plan.