TfL's taxi reforms: English language tests and five minute waits


Transport for London (TfL) has outlined further plans to reform the regulations around taxi drivers in the capital, proposing an English language test for drivers.

TfL plans to introduce the test alongside a ‘tough topographic exam to test driver navigational skills’ following an earlier consultation on taxi regulations, which ended in June and received thousands of responses.

The authority also suggests that ‘operators must provide booking confirmation details to the passenger at least five minutes prior to the journey commencing’.

In a document outlining the plans, TfL states: ‘We will make regulations that will require drivers to be able to demonstrate they have sufficient knowledge of English language at an intermediate level.

'The requirement will be applied to all new driver applicants and renewals. In the interim, as part of our review of the topographical test, we will ensure that the test centres are properly assessing the ability of candidates to communicate in English.’

Taxi English

Garrett Emmerson, TfL's chief operating officer for surface transport, said: ‘In recent years the private hire industry has grown exponentially and technology has also developed rapidly.

'The consultation sets out a number of ways that standards across the industry could be raised, ensuring Londoners can continue to benefit from the service provided by licensed private hire vehicles. No final decisions have been made and we're keen to hear a range of views from the trade and from Londoners too.'

However Uber, the private hire app that is largely responsible for prompting TfL to consider reforms, said the proposals would raise prices and add to congestion.

Spokesman Gareth Mead told the BBC: ‘It's meant to be a public consultation but it clearly hasn't got the public's interests at heart.

‘There will be a mandatory five-minute wait time, even if a car is available just around the corner. You won't even be able to see the nearest cars when you open the app. As the night's draw in, it's starting to get colder and darker. I'm not quite sure how that [proposal] benefits anybody.’

The consultation will close on 23 December 2015 and responses will be analysed in early 2016.

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