Becoming a London taxi driver isn’t something you can achieve in a few weeks, days or even months not unless you have a brain like superman. Because the use of sat navs is prohibited, remembering the many points of interest and quickest routes across London can take two to three years to master and often even longer. Below we have broken down the stages of becoming a London cabbie into easy digestible segments:
1) Send off for an application pack including a medical assessment form in writing to:
The Public Carriage Office
15, Penton Street
2) Get yourself a copy of the Blue Book and start learning the routes, the quicker you start learning the quicker you can put in for a test.
3) Receive your application pack, fill it in and send it off with your medical report and character checks.
4) Receive a reply from the PCO
5) When ready sit the first self assessment (Usually within the first 6 months and is optional).
6) Sit the written examination.
7) Sit several ‘Appearance’ (1-2-1 oral tests) tests.
8) Final Talk and Obtain your licence.
One – Write to the Public Carriage Office 15 Penton Street, London N1 9PU and request an application pack.
Two – Get yourself a copy of the Blue Book and start learning the routes, the quicker you know the routes the sooner you can become a Cabbie. My advice would be to download yourself a copy, having it in a digital format means you are able to print off a route at a time and work on it. Depending on your style of learning and assuming you will be driving the route in either a car or on a moped having a single page for reference is far easier than carrying a book around with you. This way you can get on with it while waiting for a reply from the PCO.
Three – Fill in the forms and send them back with the relevant documents;
a) Medical and Character Check: After requesting an application pack to become a London taxi driver the Public Carriage Office (PCO) will request that you visit your family doctor for a DVLA Group 2 medical examination. You must have been under this doctor for at least 12 months. The medical covers many areas of your health and fitness including; heart problems, black outs, diabetes, epilepsy or psychiatric problems that you might have had.
b) The character check is usually in the form of a criminal record check, if you have any convictions ensure you state them when applying.
Four – Assuming all is fine with your application you will receive a Knowledge of London introductory pack which includes a DVD and a copy of The Guide to learning the Knowledge of London.
Five – When you have managed to learn the first 80 runs you can contact the PCO and arrange to sit a self assessment test. This is a written test where you mark your own paper with a tutor present who will help you with any concerns or questions. The tutor will talk you through the answers informing you of how well or poorly you have done. This is an optional test that you can take to see if you are on the right track, it counts as nothing towards the final tests and no results are stored.
Six – The written test is in two stages and to progress you must obtain a 60% pass mark. Stage one tests your knowledge of the routes contained within the book, it is multiple choice, you will be given three routes from location A to location B and you must identify the shortest route. Stage two tests you on the points of interest also contained within the Blue Book, again multiple choices, you are given a point of interest and four possible locations and you must pick the correct location.
Seven – There are three oral exams known better as appearance tests. The tests last between 20 and 30 minutes and evolve around an examiner asking you the location of two different points of interest. You must know where each one is and also be able to tell the examiner the best way of getting from one to the other in the shortest time. Each appearance test increases with difficulty as you progress.
Eight – Assuming all the previous sections are adequately completed you will be invited along to apply for your green badge licence to become a London taxi driver. It is a case of turning up, showing your driving licence and paying the licence fee.
If this all seems daunting remember; Assuming you are healthy and have no serious criminal record then becoming a London cabbie boils down one thing, your knowledge of London. If you know all the possible routes and points of interest like the back of your hand then you are going to sail it. Learning the routes and points of interest contained in the Blue Book is all it really takes to become a London taxi driver, the sooner you learn them the quicker you will obtain that green badge licence.