Glasgow taxi driver exam to stay after 76% believe it remains relevant

Licensing chiefs have decided to keep the test after a public consultation.

Glasgow taxi driver exam to stay after 76% believe it remains relevant Jeff J Mitchell / Staff via Getty Images

Would-be taxi drivers will still need to sit a topographical test — assessing their knowledge of Glasgow — to ensure they “know the city like the back of their hand”.

Licensing chiefs have decided to keep the test after a public consultation revealed 76% of almost 850 respondents believed it remained relevant.

However, the questions will be updated every three years and tests will now be completed digitally to cut the amount of time potential drivers have to wait for their results.

Drivers who have left the trade will not need to sit a new test if they return within ten years. Private hire drivers do not need to sit the test.

Councillor Alex WIlson, SNP, who chairs the licensing committee, had previously thought the test was “no longer fit for purpose” but he has “reviewed” his position.

“We can all use Sat Nav,” he said. “However, we’ve got the best drivers anywhere. We have got a fleet of drivers who know the city like the back of their hand.

“I think that’s what it comes down to, it’s not just a case of getting from A to B. We’ve got a lot of tourists within the city, our fleet of drivers are able to identify landmarks going round the city, I think that’s really important.

“It used to be called ‘the knowledge’ and I think that’s probably a fitting name for it.”

However, he said the test is “outdated” and potential drivers should be able to “get the result on the same day”.

Applicants for a taxi driver’s licence — which also allows them to drive private hires — have been required to sit a test in person, in writing, in the city chambers under exam conditions. They received the result once the test had been marked by a licensing official.

From January, tests will be carried out digitally, although still under the supervision of officials, to speed up the process.

Cllr Wilson said: “I think it’s very, very important that our drivers are not discouraged by having to wait three or four weeks for a test result.

“I think the questions should be updated, the city does change very rapidly. That should be reflected in the questions that are asked.”

He added the test is “relevant in terms of customer service” and “setting our black hack trade apart from the private hire trade”.

Consultation was carried out after the council’s licensing section “received comment from the taxi trade in relation to the topographical test and whether or not it remained relevant”.

In total, there were 840 responses with 58% from members of the public and 21% from currently licensed taxi drivers. Those who believed the test was no longer relevant said drivers were able to use Sat Nav.

Results show that 75% of respondents believed the test’s 100 questions “remained appropriate”, while those who disagreed argued street names had changed, the test needed to be updated and the number of questions was too high.

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