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FLEXIBLE TAXI CAREER: More women SHOULD CONSIDER becoming taxi drivers say cabbies and students

Updated: Aug 6, 2022

There have been big calls from female taxi drivers and Knowledge students to get more women behind the wheel in black cabs.

According to Transport for London (TfL) data just 27 of the 919 Knowledge of London (KOL) students training to become London taxi drivers are female.

Many within the industry say this is not representative of the capital and there’s a renewed push calling for women to CONSIDER the flexible working job as a long-term career.

All iconic black cabs can be hailed in the street and taxi drivers must have a thorough knowledge of London within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. Tens of thousands of road names and places of interest must be learnt. This is why taxi drivers have to learn and pass the world-famous Knowledge.

The KOL was introduced as a requirement for taxi drivers in 1865 and completing the test usually takes students three to four years.

Laura Wall is a Knowledge of London Student who recently appeared on BBC Breakfast explaining why she is taking on the KOL. Wall said: “For me, it was more about the freedom of the job, it's something that I’ve wanted to do for a very very long time.

“I started it in my early 20s, I didn’t get very far, I was young and didn’t take it seriously at the time.

“But, 20 years down the line, I’ve had a son and for me, it’s the freedom of the job and being able to go to work as and when I want."

Latest TfL statistics taken from December 2021 reveal there are just 453 female taxi drivers licensed on the capital’s roads. That’s just over 2% of the current total licensed to work in London.

Lisa Seymour, a proud London taxi driver, is now on a mission to change those stats and get more women behind the wheel of an iconic black cab.

Lisa recently appeared on the BBC explaining how she will offer free KOL training from her house in Deptford, south-east London.

How do you get tested on the Knowledge of London?

Each appearance usually consists of four questions about the shortest route between any two points in London. An appearance takes about 20 minutes, and you'll get a score from A-D.

Depending on your score you will accumulate points; when you have enough you will progress to the next stage, when appearances will become more frequent. However, if you get too many Ds, you may be put back to a previous stage.

At Stage 3, appearances are about 56 days apart, at Stage 4 they are about 28 days apart, and at Stage 5 they are about 21 days apart. On average you will have to score on four appearances to accumulate enough points to progress to the next stage.

According to trade sources, a final ‘Suburban’ test has recently been condensed to include fewer routes out of central London into the suburbs to speed up the final testing stage. Upon completion of the ‘Suburban’ test, the KoL student will then be handed their bill and badge to allow them to ply-for-hire as a licensed taxi driver.

There are currently 20,027 licensed taxi drivers in the capital. Of those 17,910 hold All London licences, otherwise known as ‘Green Badges’, and 2,337 hold ‘Yellow‘ Suburban licences.


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