• ETC
  • Aug 21, 2014
In London, cab drivers undergo a grueling testing and memorization regime known ominously as "The Knowledge." Obtaining a license to drive one of the British capital's distinctive black cabs is so difficult that students often use motor scooters to get around and learn some 320 routes on 25,000 roads, a process that takes two to four years. They then need to take a completely random oral test, just to make sure they know their way about the city.

The Australian state of Victoria, meanwhile, is doing its best to match London's notorious standards. It recently announced new tests to "weed out" bad taxi drivers. The first round of exams were so challenging, though, that only one in 234 wanna-be cab drivers passed. Drivers are allowed to take the test twice before they're forced into a 12-month waiting period.

"There's 55 questions in each unit and you get an hour to do it," Karen Downie, the sole driver to pass the tests, said. "[It's] a lot of knowing your bus lanes and tram rules and how to deal with people with disabilities. Having done the test now myself, I'll be much better at helping others to prepare for it."

Some, though, are concerned that the exacting standards will lead to a shortage of cab drivers.

"If things don't change we're probably looking at a 25 percent reduction in the taxi fleet by Christmas," Stuart Overell, the COO of 13Cabs, told Yahoo! News Australia. That's a view disputed by Taxi Services Commissioner Graeme Samuel.

"What it indicates is that there has been poor training and poor assessment in the past," Samuel told Yahoo!, adding that drivers who fail this round of testing will still be re-accredited for 2015.

"Drivers, however, who come up for accreditation from the first of January next year and fail the test will have their accreditations removed," Samuels said. "Frankly 13Cabs is just being mischievous putting out that sort of nonsense."


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  • 20 Comments
      Alan Ko
      • 4 Months Ago

      ...or you could just use a GPS.

        Jarda
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Alan Ko

        That would defy purpose of several offices.

      johnb
      • 4 Months Ago

      While I think the test is probably a bit too difficult (1 in 234!!?) I really like that they have high standards.  In this country there would be some group somewhere ranting about the test being bigoted or something like that.     We can't have standards!

        Jarda
        • 4 Months Ago
        @johnb

        Because giving someone a ride is so complicated.

        nettsu
        • 4 Months Ago
        @johnb
        Here we have very strict anti-discrimination laws.
        So no.
        The expectation is that you can get into a taxi and expect that your cab driver would have a rough idea of where you are trying to get to.

        Although in all fairness Melbourne is a massive urban sprawl and most of our taxi drivers are actually recent migrants.
      Car Guy
      • 4 Months Ago

      This could never happen in the US.  Would no doubt be view as "discrimination"..........

        Jarda
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Car Guy

        And rightfully so. These hurdles created by regulators work against people willing to start a business.

        Imagine you lose a job. One of the things you could do right away is to offer people rides. Now you need to pass some test and pay shitloads of money so you are even allowed to start. Even if only one person out of ten decides not to even try a damage has been done. And this cumulates obviously.

        And there's more and more occupations government sticks its dirty snout into.

          Jarda
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Jarda

          @devs1980

          Also look how many tests you need to pass when participating in Uber. How come such services even work without government mandated tests?

      DarylMc
      • 4 Months Ago

      I cant say I've ever had a bad taxi ride but it's a good thing that they are trying to improve the service.

      The drivers which failed the test are actually current drivers.

      Maybe the test is too hard but it shouldn't be hard to see how far the reality is from the expectations.

      Melbourne is not the easiest city to drive a motor vehicle around compared to the rest of the country and the drivers should be well trained.

      Especially since a lot of them are new immigrants.

      Taxi drivers deserve greater respect than they often get and setting some standards of service and skills is a reasonable start to improving that.

      Jarda
      • 4 Months Ago

      When 1 of 234 passes the test what is more likely? The test is fcked up or that only 1 driver was okay taxi-driver? According to many it is the latter.

      SloopJohnB
      • 4 Months Ago

      This is why Uber will win.


      evan_kay
      • 4 Months Ago

      About time! This is sorely needed.

      JaredN
      • 4 Months Ago

      Once again, self-important bureaucrats are flexing their power just because.

        SloopJohnB
        • 4 Months Ago
        @JaredN

        Or rather lobbyists for the taxi union…it's called rent-seeking.  It drives up costs to the consumer an average of 40-50%

          DarylMc
          • 4 Months Ago
          @SloopJohnB

          Taxi licence fees to the government probably do drive up costs but drivers are not unionised here in Australia.

          I expect they would be trained better if it were unionised but as you say it would cost more.

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