The London Knowledge
So you want to become a taxi driver around the city of London and you want to drive one of those famous black mini cabs as you pick up passengers and take them to their destination. You know how to drive, you have a good sense of direction and there are things called tomtoms so it can't be that difficult can it?
Think again, it takes on average four years to obtain your licence and you will have to take an exam known as the London Knowledge. Some 50,000 applications are received each year to take The Taxi Knowledge and very few proceed past the fist few weeks when they realise what is involved.
You will need to go along to an interview style introduction before you even consider taking it any further and you will almost certainly require the help of a famous blue book, plenty of spare time and a medical check to prove you are fit and healthy.
The Introductory Talk
So you want to become a london black cab driver and you are contemplating if you should send off for an application form. You have heard that you need to attend an introductory talk but you are a little concerned as to what this involves.
The first stage requires you passing both a medical and a character check. Once a person applies to become a London black cab driver they will receive an invitation to attend a presentation conducted by an experienced London Knowledge Examiner. This presentation lasts around an hour. The purpose of this presentation is to provide those attending a broad understanding of what is expected if you proceed with your application to become an All London or Suburban licensed taxi driver.
You will probably be given with a booklet more commonly known as the blue book. This blue book should not be mistaken with the blue book runs that are downloadable or available for purchase online. This particular book suggests a course of measures which an individual should follow in order to learn and have an understanding of The London Knowledge.
You'll be advised on the variation between the All London Knowledge licence and the Suburban one. The examiner giving the talk will also make it clear that one should not only learn the shortest route between starting point A and destination point B, one should also learn and recognise all the points of interest that are along that particular route. A clear understanding of all open spaces, one way systems, side roads along the route, schools, museums, parks and tourist attractions must all be remembered, even prisons.
The Blue Book which be handed out at the meeting contains 320 runs or routes. The book doesn't tell you the best route for that run, it will simply state that you need to get from one destination to another. It is for you to work out which is the quickest route and this is why many people wishing to learn the knowledge turn to downloadable blue books which already contain details of the best route possible. you to work out yourself.
This is why most people turn to downloading a copy of the blue book with the actual best routes possible already detailed. As well as remembering the route, you will be advised how you should also learn the same route in reverse, much of London operates a one way system so the return journey may well be a different one to the journey that got you to your detsination in the first place.
The talker will then detail to you the timescale involved for you to become a London taxi driver. They will inform everyone that they have six 6 months to learn the initial eighty routes and then a further 18 months to learn the rest (240 routes 320 in total). As soon as you have perfected this stage of the examination you can then progress to the written stage. The written part of the examination will not cause a problem to those who have mastered and familiarised themselves with the routes and runs contained in the blue book.
Stages three to five of the exam are often referred to as the appearance stage, they are in effect an oral examination and once again, when you have mastered the blue book the oral part of the exam will not cause you any problems. Finally a few basic do's and don’ts will be explained to you, for example don't knock on a door or enter an office block to find out if you are at the correct place as it might create a complaint.