Pay a visit to London and a black mini cab will probably be one the the first things you will see. The London taxi drivers are almost as famous as the black cabs in which they drive, this is mainly due to their in-depth knowledge of London and ability in taking their occupants to their desired destination amid the congestion and the chaos that you often find when travelling through London’s streets.
Easy you might think with the world of sat navs? Think again. Hail down a black cab in London and you can be assured that the driver will know the shortest and quickest route to your destination without the aid of a satnav. It doesn’t matter if you give them a street name, a famous landmark, a hotel name or famous point of interest, they will know exactly where it is and they will get you to it in the shortest route possible.
London taxi drivers go through stringent training to obtain their licence, they need to pass “The Knowledge”, a test which is amongst the hardest to pass in the world, it has been described as like having an atlas of London implanted into your brain. No two days are ever the same for London cabbies, they just never know who is going to be climbing into the back of their cabs. Taxi drivers meet people from all walks of life, the rich and famous, arguing couples and tourists who always have a question or two that they would like answering. Add this factor to the amount you can earn as a London taxi driver and it is a career many feel is well worth the effort.
An effort that requires you to memorise every possible route through the city as well as memorising landmarks and points of interest, museums, parks, police stations, churches, theatres and schools and not just the famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace and Nelsons Column. The hardest of all taxi driver tests in the world is how many have described “The London Knowledge” a reputation which very few would argue with.
To become an All-London taxi driver or Green badge holder you need to master no fewer than 320 basic routes, all of the 25,000 streets that are scattered within the basic routes and approximately 20,000 landmarks and places of public interest that are located within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross. This is where The Blue book is required, a handbook for budding taxi drivers which contains all of these routes and landmarks.
It takes the average person between 2 and 4 years to learn the knowledge, a lot however depends on how much time and effort they are willing to dedicate in learning it. Many students print off pages from the Blue Book which you can download by clicking here and using a moped they go over and over a route at a time until they have mastered it before moving on to the next one. A big advantage of having the blue book in digital format is the ability to print off pages when required. Could you imagine riding around with a hardback version only to have it destroyed by the English weather.