There is nothing more frustrating for passengers in taxis when the driver is not sure of the best route to take to a certain destination – or even worse in not sure about where the destination is in the first place. This concern has been voiced by many residents in Hull, who feel that taxi drivers need to have a certain amount of knowledge about the area before they are given their license. Therefore, as of April the council will require anyone applying to become a taxi driver in the area to not only be covered by taxi insurance and other legal requirements, but also complete a six week course and various tests in order to qualify.
The calls have come after an influx in immigrants to the area means that many that take up taxi driving as a profession do not know the city’s road network, or even speak enough English to communicate appropriately with their passengers. The plan is for anyone applying for a taxi license as of April they will first need to achieve a BTEC qualification in taxi driving, which will quiz the drivers on the city’s roads and neighbourhoods, as well as Hull City Council’s regulations concerning hackney carriages and private hire vehicles.
Councillor John Shipley said: “I’m in favour of the knowledge test. Since it was scrapped by the previous Liberal Democrat administration, we have seen so many complaints about this.” Meanwhile Councillor John Abbot said that it is essential that drivers have an adequate knowledge of the English language, and said: “We should set the bar reasonably high on this issue.” The new BTEC qualification will also teach potential taxi drivers skills in customer care, equality, diversity issues and basic route planning skills.
The course will not affect taxi drivers who already have licenses, and for the first twelve months will be free due to funding, but after this could cost drivers up to £176. Keith Fenner, the city council’s licensing manager said he was discussing the introduction of the new qualification with members of the taxi trade “but would expect to be in a position to go ahead with it when we have our annual review of licensing policies and conditions in April.”