As the UK makes preparations for the Games, taxi drivers in Surrey, who are already known for their banter and chat, are also being taught the “Olympic knowledge”.
Cabbies are learning about the Paralympic and Olympic sporting venues, events and celebrations to ensure visitors do not miss out on what is going on.
Drivers will also provide information about the top tourist attractions and other places to visit that are not part of the Games.
Television screens in the taxis will display images of beauty spots and landmarks.
Every visitor will be given the opportunity to “pick up the Olympic spirit”, in an initiative between the county council, Visit Surrey and the Roadrunners Gatwick Taxi company.
HR director at Roadrunners Gatwick, Denis Bone, said every one of his 200 cabbies would be “equipped with enthusiasm and knowledge to maximise every visitors’ trip”.
Based in Redhill and Horley, the company carries over 140,000 passengers each month and has huge contracts with the county council and airlines at Gatwick Airport.
Harry Malik, business development director, who is in charge of training, stated, “We are proud that our country is representing the Olympics.
“We are proud of our county, and want to capitalise on this.”
He said, as the Olympics were approaching, “the excitement was creeping in among staff and management”.
He also said that cabbies working for the company, which has been bidding for a few of the Olympic contracts, would display Surrey at its best and encourage everybody to be part of the Olympic experience.
He said, “It’s all for the county,” adding that cab drivers would not be forgetting their usual “bread and butter customers”.
A total of 16 Paralympic and Olympic teams have signed up to train in Surrey, including Team GB basketball players and cyclists.
The cabbies will be particularly hectic on the 28th and 29th July – the opening weekend of the Games, and also on the 1st August when Surrey hosts the Game’s men’s and women’s cycle time trial and road race events.
It will be a great opportunity for cab drivers to earn some extra cash, especially when the costs of running the cabs has increased, including private hire insurance and fuel prices.
Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for the 2012 Games, Denise Saliagopoulos, said “Britain’s cabbies are renowned for their wealth of local knowledge so it makes sense to tap into this for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”