London Taxi Drivers Have All the Knowledge
London taxi drivers have the best reputation. New Yorkers grumble about seeing no empty taxis in the pouring rain despite a mass of yellow hurtling down the avenues. Frustrated San Franciscans create startup taxi companies, one with cars wearing pink mustaches on their front grilles.
Londoners are spoiled. Taxis are spacious, drivers are courteous, English is spoken, baby strollers and wheelchairs are welcome, and London taxi drivers know where they're going. Boy, do they ever!
This makes them some of London’s best tour guides as well as drivers. In fact, some taxis, such as London Black Taxi Tours, London Taxi Tours, London Cab Tours and London Tours by Taxi, focus on giving guided tours of city sights. If you know the rigorous steps to becoming a London taxi drive, you’ll see why their knowledge of the city is unparalleled.
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What's the best way to Alexandra Palace when traffic on the North Circular is at a dead halt? Where is the unmarked stage door for the Royal Court Theatre? Taxi drivers know which airlines fly from which terminals and the days and times for changing the guard at Buckingham Palace. They know where to find the Courts of Justice, where Sir Paul and Sir Elton live, and that the Adam & Eve pub is not in Adam & Eve Mews.
A London cabbie may need to get a confused passenger to Victoria Embankment, Victoria Mews, Victoria Crescent, Victoria Square, Victoria Terrace, Victoria Lane, Victoria Gardens, or Victoria...There are 77 variations on Victoria in the London Streetfinder, and they're spread all over the map.
Licensed taxi drivers’ All-London Knowledge test is encyclopedic and dates back to the days before GPS and Google searches. In order to pass the test, a driver must know 320 different routes covering almost every square inch in the 113 square miles within a 6-mile radius of Charing Cross Station.
Those routes can take you to 20,000 places including shops, restaurants, offices, schools, churches and 25,000 streets. Applicants can’t pass the license test unless they know the absolute shortest routes to destinations, and that means smack to the front door. A typical exam question at an oral appearance: “Describe the way from Highbury Vale Police Station to the British Medical Association” — without any street addresses.