A London taxi representative poured water over the suggestion of a ‘dumbed down’ Knowledge of London.
A recent report in The Times stirred controversy among London cab drivers as it suggested the introduction of a 'dumbed down' version of the London Cab Driver Test, potentially shortening the usual 3-4 year timeframe to just 2 years. The proposal, aimed at streamlining the testing process while maintaining standards, has raised concerns within the industry.
The Knowledge of London (KOL) is widely regarded as the gold standard for cab drivers around the world, requiring an in-depth knowledge of London's streets, landmarks, and routes.
Grant Davis, representing the London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), voiced strong opposition to any reduction in standards. In an editorial in The Badge newspaper, Davis emphasised the LCDC's commitment to preserving the integrity of the trade and the KOL. He expressed concern that The Times article had created a negative perception of the industry, potentially dissuading aspiring drivers from enrolling in the KOL.
Davis attributed the decline of the KOL's importance to the rise of ride-hailing platforms such as Uber. He argued that the influx of cheap and sometimes free rides offered by these services had significantly impacted the traditional taxi trade, leading to a decrease in the number of licensed cab drivers.
Grant Davis, London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), said in The Badge newspaper: “For clarity, the LCDC is adamant that the Gold standard of the cab trade and the Knowledge stays intact and at NO time are the standards to be lowered in any way. And in relation to the recent irresponsible article in the Times we feel it's done more harm than good, as it paints a very negative picture of our trade - When really we need positivity, as if you were contemplating doing the KOL then you read this piece, you may leave enrolling, hoping that the KOL will become easier.
“The demise of the KOL coincidently started when Uber were allowed to ride roughshod in London and flooded our marketplace with cheap (and sometimes free) trips to ultimately gain market share and destroy the cab trade.
“Although the trade has picked up a bit in recent times, this was more down to the lack of PH drivers working last year, but more worryingly, the lack of taxi drivers who have left the trade and not returned.
“We have looked at the projected figures and in the next three years we are expected to lose some 3,000 drivers. These shocking figures are due to in part natural wastage but are enhanced due to the 12 year age limit, which saw hundreds of drivers have to leave the trade three years earlier than planned and also the cost of both rental and new taxis. The costs of running a taxi nowadays makes it nigh on impossible for part time drivers to return.”