Black cabs are an iconic part of London, providing essential transport for people all around the capital.
Whether day or night, you can rely on black cabs to get you around London extremely efficiently. As a service many of us rely on, have you ever wondered what it’s like being a black cab driver?
Now, some people may believe that becoming a black cab driver may be a walk in the park. Thanks to sat navs, many of us can get around the capital with very little knowledge of the area. However, black cab drivers do not use sat navs and are held to very high standards to know their way around London. Before drivers can become licensed, they are put through a very difficult test called ‘The Knowledge’.
This test requires black cabbies to study some 320 routes and 25,000 streets, knowing them all by heart… so if you have a fantastic memory, becoming a black cab driver may be ideal for you!
There are 7 main stages to becoming a London taxi driver:
Stage 1 – Initially a self assessment of the first 80 runs in Blue Book (runs are effectively the list of streets from one point to another following as straight a line as possible).
Stage 2 – Written Exam – Based around landmarks (points) in the city and runs.
Stages 3-5 – Appearances – One on one interviews based around 4 runs.
Stage 6 – Suburban examination – Learning the streets surrounding London and routes from London too.
Stage 7 – Licence application and pre-licencing talk.
They also memorise roughly 20,000 landmarks and places of public interest, from tourist destinations to museums, parks, churches, theatres and schools.
Due to this, the test can typically take between two and four years to complete. This knowledge of London significantly sets black cabbies apart from private hire taxis. This allows passengers to safely travel around London as drivers do not need to rely on technology to get around, finding the most efficient and safest routes to reach the destination.
Due to this process, there is a great deal of appreciation for black cab drivers. Their dedication to the job shows that there is a lot of hard work that is put into what they do, in order to officially become a licensed black cab driver.
If you are interested in becoming a Licenced London Taxi driver, contact TFL to apply here.
Black cab drivers will come across many people in their lifetimes and will have many stories to tell. Many drivers love to chat and get on very well with the majority of their customers, allowing them to make some decent tips!
However, it is also important for these drivers to know how to deal with the general public in certain negative situations that many of them may face. Drivers need to be wary of who they allow in their cabs for their own safety, as well as others.
So although they may come across some very friendly passengers they can get along with, like any job, there will be moments where they will need to be prepared to deal with any problems.
Your own boss
Many join the cab trade to become their own boss. Becoming self-employed in this trade means that there is no-one above you to dictate your hours. You choose your own working schedule.
Of course, taxi drivers have rules to follow but, most of the time, it is just their vehicle and their customers to manage. This sense of freedom is great for those who desire this independence, allowing you to find the best routes around the city, customising your cab how you like and deciding how many hours you need to work to make a living.
Although cab drivers work independently, there is a strong community of drivers across the taxi trade where you can always receive plenty of support and advice from fellow cabbies.
For many cab drivers, ‘unsociable’ hours are part of the deal. Before the pandemic, their busiest times were during the evenings and weekends when other people are off work and out and about socialising. This may not be for everyone, but it can mean taxi drivers can spend more time during the day with their family or catch up on other jobs!
Being a black cab driver comes with many advantages and disadvantages, however, it can be very rewarding for those who are willing to put in the hours.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for the taxi trade. It has been tough for the industry due to travel restrictions and road closures across the capital. However, we are hopeful that non-essential retail can open back up again on the 12th of April, massively increasing the demand for black cabs for transport.
How can we help with your taxi insurance?
At Quotax Insurance, our promise is to provide London black cab taxi drivers with friendly and efficient service, helping owner-drivers and fleet proprietors find a competitive taxi insurance quote.
Our very competitive rates, along with our relationships with a wide-ranging number of specialist insurers mean that we are well placed to provide the perfect taxi insurance for London’s taxi drivers.
We also understand that your taxi is your livelihood – if it’s not working then neither are you. Find out more about our taxi insurance policies here, or give us a call to speak with an expert on 0208 691 9691.