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800 PHV drivers shown interest in Knowledge of London subsidy, says FREENOW General Manager

FREENOW recently announced that the 20,000+ London Private Hire Vehicle drivers on their app will have the chance to expand their careers by accessing a unique financial subsidy that will support them in completing the Knowledge of London and becoming black cab drivers.

In an industry-first, FREENOW will be funding 100% of the application cost, tuition fee, exams and licensing required to the value of over two thousand pounds per driver over a minimum period of two years. The company will be working in partnership with two leading schools, Knowledge Point School and WizAnn, which are also hosting information sessions for PHV drivers interested in pursuing this career.

At the start of the month we caught up with Mariusz Zabrocki, General Manager at FREENOW, to ask him a few questions on the topic.

You have received a lot of initial interest in the subsidy to take up the Knowledge of London. How many drivers do you expect to fund?

“We communicated the subsidy first-hand and in person during an internal event we organised for Private Hire Vehicle drivers, and we immediately saw there was a huge interest, particularly from experienced drivers who have been drivers for a long time. During this event, we also answered drivers’ questions with the support of a few special guests, including FREENOW black cab drivers and Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers‘ Association, but also our partners from the Knowledge schools.

“Within 24 hours of the official communication to Private Hire Vehicle drivers, we received over 500 applications, and since then, applications haven’t stopped coming through, reaching nearly 800 to date. The response from drivers has been overwhelming, and we are incredibly proud to be able to give them this unique opportunity.

“Currently, over 500 drivers have met the eligibility criteria and are ready to start their knowledge studies, and we expect to see these and others completing the KoL in the future. Our vision is to make it a long-term program that will support thousands of drivers in the years to come.”

What makes FREENOW think Private Hire Vehicle drivers are a good fit to become London taxi drivers?

“They are a good fit because they are experienced and have been working as drivers in London for a long period. These Private Hire Vehicle drivers also have a head start over other KoL students as they already know a lot about London streets and landmarks, especially if they have several years of experience.

“These drivers are passionate about their job, and they know the city and the importance of providing excellent service to passengers, whether they are Londoners or tourists. This subsidy allows them to take their career to the next level and become part of the iconic institution, the London black cab.”

Other than funding, do you think there are any other barriers stopping people taking on the Knowledge of London?

“Unfortunately, becoming a cab driver is not a career that many young people consider, and that immediately impacts the number of people applying to the Knowledge. However, other aspects are also a barrier. According to recent research we conducted among Private Hire Vehicle drivers, investment, the time it takes to complete, and the difficulty of the exam were all perceived as barriers:

• Almost half (49%) think the Knowledge should be made simpler.

• 40% think it should take less time.

• 34% stated they would consider doing the Knowledge if financial support was available.

“While many of these aspects are not something we can control as an operator, we are proud to be the first company in the sector to act when it comes to providing financial support to help drivers with the KOL. By creating a positive impact on the number of drivers applying and studying to become black cab drivers, we expect to support the trade by having new drivers who can replace those who retire but also ensure there is always a healthy pipeline of new drivers joining this iconic profession so the trade can thrive in the years to come.”


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