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‘FLAWED AND INACCURATE’: LTDA General Secretary addresses concerns over reported Knowledge changes

Updated: Jun 25, 2023

Steve McNamara, the General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), has recently addressed concerns over reported changes to the ‘Knowledge’, which serves as the examination process that London taxi drivers must go through before being granted a licence.

In an editorial featuring in TAXI Newspaper, McNamara spoke out about the dissemination of “flawed, inaccurate and outright lies” that circulated on social media, after a newspaper report claimed that the exam was being “dumbed down” and replaced with sat navs.

McNamara clarified that the Knowledge has not undergone a complete overhaul since 2000, and is only at present being reviewed for the second time in 50 years. However, concerns have been expressed over the lengthy time it now takes to complete the exam.

The taxi trade rep is also of the opinion that the existing six-mile radius within the Knowledge may be a bit outdated and unsuitable in the current times given the expansion of London over the years. However, he reassured readers that any changes made will have to ensure that the “gold standard” is retained and the service the London taxi trade provides is not compromised.

Steve McNamara said: “Once again, a combination of a flawed newspaper report designed to create a sensational headline, followed by a lot more flawed, inaccurate and outright lies on social media have resulted in more fake news being reported as factual!

“This time it was the Knowledge at the centre of the storm, and according to some it was being 'dumbed down', replaced with sat navs, or according to one of the Twitterati, scrapped altogether, so minicab drivers could ply for hire!

“The truth is a bit less exciting; the Knowledge was last reviewed back in 2000, when it went from 468 runs down to 320. Had social media been a thing back then, this would also probably have been badged as ‘the end of the Knowledge.’ The truth is that since those changes, the average time taken to complete it has gone up every year, leaving many to question why. It’s therefore currently being looked at again, for only the second time in 50 years.

“There are various theories I’ve heard about why its taking as long as four years to complete, including younger people today are not as ‘bright’, London’s bigger, it’s now too dangerous to learn it on a moped, and a dozen others. The truth is no one knows.

“Personally, I suspect it’s a combination of a whole generation, who have no idea what a map is or how to look at one and that same generation is also used to being taught and learning things in bite size blocks or chunks, whereas the Knowledge is one enormous chunk of information.

“I don’t know what the changes, if any, will look like, but to meit seems a bit dated to have a six-mile radius. It doesn’t cover the City Airport or much of the development in the old docks but does cover areas of London that I’ve never been to since riding my Honda 90 in the 1980s.

“To be absolutely clear, any changes made must ensure that we retain our gold standard and the professionalism and level of service we are world famous for. The Knowledge is what sets us apart and makes our trade what it is, and we can not and must not compromise that. I was clear on this point when speaking to journalists, who asked us to comment on their stories, as was reported in the Sunday Telegraph, (see below) but hey why let facts and truth get in the way of the fake news and trolls on social media?”


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