Is London the Most Difficult Place to Become a Taxi Driver?

Photo credit: Anna

Have you ever fancied being a taxi driver? Someone told me years ago that it is really expensive to get a licence but I never really believed them.

Then I was watching a programme on Spanish telly the other night and there was something on about someone becoming a taxi driver. It might have lost a little in the translation but I am pretty sure that he paid about €50,000 to get his licence. Could that be right or did I mis hear it? It sounds like a ludicrous amount of money, to be fair.

In London it is the Knowledge you need, isn’t it? It apparently takes years to get it and the people who are in training are called Knowledge boys and girls. Taxi drivers there are famous for knowing, well, everywhere really. The few times I got a taxi in the UK capital I have to confess that they took me where I wanted to go to without any hassles at all.

The Knowledge is called the hardest test in the world for taxi drivers and I decided to check this out. My uncle drives a taxi here in South America and I asked him whether he had to study the city for years or pay €50,000 to get a licence. “Eh?” was his reply. It turns out that he paid the equivalent of a quid for a sticker which says, appropriately enough, “Taxi”, and started driving it there and then. No licence and no provable knowledge needed.

Driving in the Big Apple

What about somewhere like New York though? Do they have huge licence fees or the equivalent of the Knowledge? A quick look online told me that you need to change your driver’s licence from class D to class E and that the fee can’t be worked out until you apply. A bit of further investigation and I got the figure of $500 for everything you need to get started, including a 6 hour driving course.

Sydney looks even easier, although the site I found seemed to have been written by someone who counts English as their 3rd language. Apparently you need to take 48 hours worth of classes and “sit for English test”. Easy peasy compared to spending endless hours of your life studying London’s backstreets or paying a fortune for a Spanish licence.

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