Uber fails to obtain concessions as Transport for London introduces requirement for taxi drivers seeking to obtain or renew licence after 1 April 2017
All aspiring private-hire taxi drivers in London will have to pass a two-hour written English exam, including those for whom it is their first language, the capital’s public transport authority has confirmed.
Transport for London (TfL) has fought a legal battle with taxi-hailing app Uber over plans to introduce written tests for anyone seeking a private-hire licence.
Uber succeeded in derailing TfL’s plans to offer an exemption for drivers from English-speaking countries on the grounds that it would be discriminatory, a viewsupported by campaign groups representing migrant workers.
But rather than abandon the requirement, TfL has announced that the exam will be compulsory for anyone seeking to obtain or renew a licence to drive a private-hire taxi from 1 April 2017, regardless of their nationality.
The deadline has been extended from this month to give would-be cab drivers more time to prepare and there will be an exemption for anyone who can provide “satisfactory documentary evidence” they already have an English qualification.
However, the requirement means someone who has spoken English all their life may be forced to pay £200 to take an exam in rudimentary writing skills, unless they can dig out their GCSE certificate or equivalent.
“It’s disappointing that, to try and dig themselves out of a legal hole, TfL is now insisting every private hire driver in London must have essay writing skills,” said a spokesperson.
“We’ve always supported spoken English skills, but passing a written English exam has nothing to do with communicating with passengers or getting them safely from A to B.
“Thousands of drivers who’ve spent years providing a great service to Londoners will now have to fork out £200 and pass a writing exam, try to find an old GCSE certificate or lose their licence and their livelihood.
“Transport for London should think again and scrap these unnecessary new rules.”
“Drivers must be able to communicate with passengers to discuss a route, or fare, as well as reading and understanding important regulatory, safety and travel information.
“We are clear that this is crucial to a driver’s role in transporting the public.”
TfL did not comment on the specific requirement for exams in written English.