Bury Council will decide whether to eliminate the traditional 'knowledge' test required for taxi drivers in the borough.
The proposed change in policy is in response to modern operational practices and the prevalence of GPS technology.
The current knowledge test in Bury demands drivers demonstrate their ability to identify locations, navigate direct routes, and memorise specific journeys using maps.
However, according to a council report, with the increased use and availability of GPS equipment, the council believes that this test is outdated.
According to the Bury Times, the new knowledge test would focus on topics more relevant to public safety, such as licence conditions, safeguarding, and road signs. The council conducted a consultation exercise with taxi drivers, firms, and the public to gather opinions on this change as well as other amendments to the taxi policy.
Responses received during the consultation reflected the widespread reliance on GPS technology. One private hire firm stated: ’Everybody uses GPS now, and I do not think that knowing roads is of any benefit. Also, GPS allows for diverted routes in the event of traffic or accidents to reach the destination faster for both driver and customer.'
Another respondent highlighted the ability of GPS systems to consider traffic situations and choose the shortest routes. They remarked, ’geographical knowledge is not required in this current age due to modern tools such as GPS systems’.
In a council report to be presented to the licensing committee on Thursday, it is revealed that the knowledge test was introduced when physical maps and practical knowledge of the area were the primary resources available to taxi drivers.
The council aims to address concerns around the decreasing number of licensed drivers in the area and the rise in licensed vehicles and drivers from out-of-town areas. With readily accessible modern technology, the council believes that the revised knowledge test can effectively maintain public safety standards.
If approved on Thursday, the new standard will be implemented for all new taxi licence applications from 1 January 2024.