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Lack of English test for London’s taxi drivers is both ‘double standards’ and ‘racist’ says PHV reps

Private hire vehicle (PHV) representatives called the lack of English language tests for black cab drivers both ‘racist’ and ‘double standards’ from the capital’s transport regulator.

Earlier this month, the United Cabbies Group (UCG) took to social media to also dispel any notion that these tests should be brought in.

Private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers must undertake the test.

Regulators Transport for London (TfL) see the requirement as essential for public safety and that it's vital that all PHV drivers are able to communicate in English at an appropriate level.

The App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) have now accused TfL of ‘double standards’ and called for taxi drivers to set the ‘same high standards’.

An ADCU spokesperson said: “We can reveal TfL Taxis and Private Hire are once again bending rules for black cab drivers. Instead of applying same English language test as for PHV drivers, TfL now looking to say Knowledge appearances before untrained examiners is an equivalent. It isn't. This is racism, a double standard!”

Paul Bond, RMT London Taxi Chairman, responded: “How is it racist? Taxi drivers (of all races & creeds) have many one-to-one Oral Appearances, clear evidence of their command of English otherwise they would never pass. This is a non issue.”

The ADCU followed up saying: “Lets have the same high standard. There is no reason to set a lower standard for taxi drivers.”

The English Language Requirement (ELR) was first introduced in London in 2016 and transitional arrangements were put in place to allow drivers time to comply.

On 1 October 2021, TfL changed how they assessed London PHV drivers' English language skills and introduced a requirement for drivers to show an understanding of safety, equality and regulatory matters (the SERU assessment). Drivers must satisfy the ELR by taking and passing a new speaking and listening test and the SERU assessment is used to assess their reading and writing skills.

Throughout the testing period undergone by taxi drivers, known as the Knowledge of London, the applicant must sit more than TEN face-to-face oral exams to display their knowledge of the road network.

A UCG Spokesperson said: “The UCG strongly oppose the suggestion that Taxi Drivers should have to undertake the English Language test. By completing the KOL Taxi Drivers have demonstrated they have a topographical knowledge of London, and a command of the English Language.”


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