Uber doesn't think UK drivers should take tough English exam

Uber drivers must take a two-hour, $260 exam.

Uber is suing Transport for London, which regulates trains, buses, and taxis in the capital, over a new set of rules that require anyone from a non-English-speaking country applying for or renewing a private hire car license to sit a £200 ($260 at today's rates), two-hour written exam.

Uber's general manager for London, Tom Elvidge, said its legal action is "very much a last resort," The Guardian reports.

"We're particularly disappointed that, after a lengthy consultation process with Transport for London, the goalposts have moved at the last minute and new rules are now being introduced that will be bad for both drivers and tech companies like Uber."

TfL's original plan called for drivers to prove simple proficiency in a spoken English test – a proposal that Uber agreed with when they were proposed. But the final draft's requirements are far more severe, testing applicants not just on spoken English, but on their ability to read, write and listen. Sample exams call on test-takers to write 100- to 130-word "essays," for example.

Elvidge told The Guardian the new tests aren't only more demanding than British citizenship tests, but require a higher degree of English proficiency than "customer-facing roles" in the UK government. Uber will likely challenge the ruling under the UK's Equality Act.

Uber's complaint doesn't just focus on mandatory English exams, but on another TfL requirement that calls on private hire car drivers to carry commercial insurance, even when they're not on the clock. According to The Telegraph, Uber believes the insurance mandate unfairly penalizes part-time drivers.

TfL said it "will be robustly defending the legal proceedings brought by [Uber]," and claiming the new rules "enhance public safety when using private hire services." The government regulator added that it's determined "to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market with space for all providers to flourish."

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