Taxi and private hire drivers of Glasgow City will be tested on their English and knowledge of the city amongst tough new measures proposed to tackle a shocking rise in passenger complaints.
As suggested by Unite - Glasgow Cab Section, members of Glasgow City Council’s licensing committee are expected to introduce a new policy which means taxis and private hire car drivers will need to complete an SQA qualification to obtain a licence to take passengers.
As reported in the Evening Times, figures have revealed the number of complaints made by customers against cab companies in the city had more than doubled in five years.
Between 2014 the number of recorded incidents was 430. That figure rose to 1038 in 2018.
The council’s licensing committee has dealt with all kinds of complaints including pirating (illegally plying for hire), cherry-picking jobs, over-charging fares, drivers refusing to assist wheelchair users or carry guide dogs and drivers not knowing where they are going.
In February Konstantinos Theodoropoulos was denied a cab licence because he couldn’t identify the City Chambers despite being inside the building opposite.
The new policy will make Glasgow City Council the second local authority in Scotland after Dundee to introduce the tougher tests.
Figures also show that the number of private hire cars licensed by the council has increased, making the new tests even more of a necessity.
The new course, which would need to be passed by all new applicants, would cost between £300-£400 per driver, the report suggests.
Chairman of the licensing board, Alex Wilson, said: “We are hoping the qualification will raise the standards of our drivers. It is going to replace the existing customer care course which is really outdated.
“The qualification will include a language test and suitable ways to help passengers with disabilities and mental health problems. There is already a code of conduct in place for taxi drivers but this new policy will include private hires.
"It will be mandatory for every new driver to complete. Existing drivers will have to complete it before they renew their licence. Applicants will have to know where key locations are – including the City Chambers.”
Calum Anderson of Unite - Glasgow Cab Section, said that the standards of the taxi and private hire drivers had dropped and was hoping the new course and tests will improve the industry and deter anyone from coming into the profession for just a casual exercise. He added he was happy that the council had “embraced” the union’s idea.
The course will start in January and will replace the existing customer care course which is considered no longer fit for purpose.
Included in the course will be: workplace health and safety, safety transport passengers, professional customer service, maintain the safety of the licensed vehicle, mobility and wheelchair assistance, plan routes and fares, transport luggage and parcels, safely transport school age children and the licensing regulations (Scotland).
As the ET reported, From January 1, 2020 all applicants will require to have completed the training prior to submitting their application.
Existing licence holders whose licence needs to be renewed from April 1, 2020 will require to complete their training before renewing their licence.
Image (cropped): Source; Geograph
Image: Author; Christine Johnstone