IN London the taxi drivers do “The Knowledge” – a test of their ability to find their way around the capital.
It can take years to get to know the city and trainee drivers can be seen pottering around the centre of the city on mopeds, maps clipped in front of them, learning the streets and short cuts.
Soon Mendip’s taxi drivers could have to have a similar grounding in the district’s streets and villages.
The district council wants to introduce a new “Knowledge” scheme, which would be undertaken by anyone who wants a taxi licence.
In recent years the council hasds been flooded with applications for would-be cabbies, many of whom would not be seen on the local streets.
This is because the number of taxi licences in Bristol and Bath is limited – but by obtaining a licence in Mendip the taxi drivers can operate in the cities.
Mendip licences are different to those issued in other areas – a Mendip taxi licence allows drivers to be hackney carriage drivers, to be hailed in the street, and to be private hire drivers, booked over the telephone, known in some locations as minicabbing.
If the proposals are approved Mendip drivers will have to pay £20 and pass a numeracy assessment, and display a knowledge and awareness of Mendip’s driver and vehicle conditions and relevant legislation.
Drivers would also have to take part in an assessment of comprehension and judgment, show they had good geographical knowledge of the area and show they had a basic mechanical/vehicle safety knowledge.
The applicant’s use of and command of English language would also be assessed so they could show they could understand directions, communicate with the passenger where there was a disagreement over a fare and understand a direction from a public official.
Taxi drivers will also have to pass the Driving Standards agency Taxi test and have a higher standard of medical assessment.
The proposals will go before Mendip’s licensing panel tonight, October 10.
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