New cabbies don't need to know where famous landmarks are in New York

Knowing New York’s geography by heart is no longer a prerequisite for prospective taxi drivers looking to get a licence in the city.

New York's yellow cab drivers face a test which no longer requires a knowledge of the geography of the city to get a licence

New York's yellow cab drivers face a test which no longer requires a knowledge of the geography of the city to get a licence Image by serakatie / CC BY 2.0

This is due to the influence of technology where GPS kits and such online car services as Uber have fundamentally changed the requirements of the traditional cab business.

The Daily Telegraph reports on these major shifts and compares the New York situation with the daunting test taken by London black cab drivers in their test - The Knowledge.

In future, questions on New York’s routes between destinations or even knowledge of the geography of famous landmarks in the city will not longer apply. They are being dropped because of a high failure rate among potential entrants over the past few years.

According to the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) in New York, the reason for change follows their decision in "modernising" the 80-question test. Part of the reason for this is to place a greater emphasis on safety issues and also to highlight the need for training.

The TLC accepted that the fewer requirements of a general knowledge of the geography of New York was also a recognition of advanced navigational technology.

It is also a reflection of the reality of Uber and Lyft’s internet-based taxi business which obviates the need to take the test. According to one yellow-cab fleet owner, the problem is currently more to do with a lack of drivers rather than a lack of geographic knowledge.

It is understood that exam success rates have jumped by 20% since the geography questions were omitted.

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