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Safe transport should be the number one priority, but is often ignored says Edinburgh Taxi Academy

The Edinburgh topographical knowledge exam is an integral part of becoming a Cabbie as it is in many other cities. Cabbies can then keep their eyes on the road, using purely brainpower, instead of SatNav or any other GPS systems. The exam commands a pass rate of 90% on streets, pubs, hotels, schools, places of interest/leisure and high rise flats. Whilst the students who study the city give 100% commitment to the knowledge, we would like our council to show the same commitment to those students who study for up to a year and more. We find students enrolled for the months exam not on the list of applicants. We are finding the time to get results to students taking much longer than before, and actually receiving the badge even longer. Results are filtered out in a trickle with some having no correspondence at all and having to call licensing to determine the outcome.

All we want, are people into jobs that are available, much more quickly.

Whilst we understand the problem to be understaffing, it was council who created the extra workload in more licenses to all and sundry in Private Hire Cars (PHC), therefore, more staff should be hired. We feel the Knowledge exam is suffering for this. With so many visitors to our city, it’s imperative the driver knows the city. That’s just common sense. Some at the council seem to be more comfortable with untrained drivers stumbling their way about the city, clogging up the city centre causing even more congestion and pollution, and it seems that one company in particular is favoured. PHC entry licence fees suddenly dropped with the arrival of an American based ride share company. Under guidelines, consultation should have taken place with the trade, but no consultation ever came. Having more cars looking for work causes a few problems. The already mentioned extra (2,000) cars in the city causing congestion and more pollution, is also coupled with the problems of pirating. This is a long standing issue but has now reached epic proportions and this in turn leads to a safety issue. Safe transport should be the number one priority with the Council but they seem to either ignore or deny that pirating occurs. With Private Hire Cars acting as Taxi’s, we have already seen the problems that it causes. Some of the public are confused as to what a Private Hire Car can, or rather cannot do. This has lead to at least two instances where a car has offered lone females a “Taxi” ride home and both were sexually assaulted when they thought they were safe in a “Taxi”. US tech firms often proudly boast of their aim and ability to “disrupt” the existing order, as if this were automatically a good thing. Regrettably, their disruption is all too frequently thoughtless of any consequence other than to make a fast buck for themselves. All they offer is a dystopian vision of an unregulated, unsafe, unfair, unstable and uncaring future in which the vast majority of their drivers scrape a living through low-paid work with zero employment rights. If this is the future of “taxi” transport for us and our children then we should all be concerned.

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