Lieven's Blog

What's on my mind...

London Taxis...

clipboard-with-pencil_16x16If you have a business trip to a city somewhere in the world, one of the first things you need after your airplane has landed is a taxi. You hope that they are not to expensive, that they are clean, that the taxi driver is friendly and honest and most important, that he knows the fastest way to your destination. I must say that I have been disappointed a few times. Dirty cars, (very) unfriendly drivers, drivers that complain about a too short route etc. My impression is that some city governments do not realize that taxi drivers contribute in a significant way to an image of a city. They are the people who receive a cities’ guests and they will determine the first impression a traveller has about a city. So regulating this profession to guarantee a professional and friendly service to customers would make sense.

Of all the cities I travelled to for work in the last year (cities in the US, Europe and Asia), there is only one city that tops all the others by far when it comes to professional taxi drivers, and that is London. The taxis are always clean and due to their unique design, they are easy to access with luggage. However it’s the driver that makes a taxi ride in London so comfortable. To be a taxi driver in London you must have what they call “the knowledge.” Only when you pass an exam and know thousands of things about London’s streets, you may call yourself a London Cab Driver. The exam requires them to memorize approximately 50.000 places of interest, 35.000 streets and 250 different routes (from “the blue book”). No wonder that most of the London Cap Drivers needed about 3 years of studying before they are ready to take the exam.

I think that being welcomed by professional people, who are experts in what they do does matter a lot to business people like me who depend on them. By having this exam, only the people who are truly motivated will prepare for this profession. And when they succeed, they can be proud to own the title of London Cap Driver.

Next time you go to London (for the Olympics?), take a London Cab, talk to the driver and test their knowledge of London and their friendliness, you won’t regret it.

If you would like to react on this thought, please feel free to use the contact page or contact me via twitter.

Chris, a London Cab Driver and a true ambassador of the profession.