It’s certainly crowded here in London right now! As our 5,500 card-payment enabled taxis zip around the city, spare a thought for the drivers that are working so hard getting everyone where they need to go. London’s taxi industry is regularly ranked #1 in the world and it’s the colourful personalities of our drivers that make the difference.
The London licensed taxi trade has a long history. Starting life as a horse-drawn “hackney carriage” in the 1600s, the first cab rank was on the The Strand. Once things became motorised, the taxi body design changed many times. It wasn’t until after WWII that the black cab design that we all know and love became the preferred style.
Probably the best-known fact about drivers is how well-educated they are about London streets. To become a licensed taxi driver one must pass the infamous “Knowledge Test”. This is no easy feat! Average time to study and pass is 2-4 years. According to the Transport for London (TfL) website:
All-London drivers – also known as Green Badge drivers – need a detailed knowledge of London within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. All-London drivers’ Knowledge is based on learning 320 routes (or runs). This will help them learn the 25,000 streets and 20,000 landmarks and places of interest in the six mile radius of Charing Cross.
The taxi industry is also chock full of quirky facts.
Did you know…
- The iconic London black cab doesn’t have to be black? White, red, blue and green are all common
- A cab must be tall enough to accommodate someone wearing a bowler hat?
- Unlike other cities where the taxi industry operates on a fleet/rental basis, most cabs in London are driver-owned and in effect are independent businesses.
- You’re stepping into “shop” each time to you get in a cab!
- A black cab “turns on a two pence” – with a turning circle of 25ft to easily navigate narrow streets
If you happen to be visiting us this summer, or anytime at all, be sure and catch a ride with one of London’s knowledgeable cab drivers.
In the meantime, below is a great video we recently put together. You can see some of London’s most popular sites and learn how VeriFone and London’s black cab operators are working together to enhance the passenger experience: