Uber takes the fight to TfL over new English exam for drivers

The ride-hailing service fears the test will reduce the number of drivers on the road.

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Jamie Rigg
August 10, 2016 7:13 AM

Considering the proposals Transport for London (TfL) originally put forward as it looked to update private hire regulations in the capital, Uber escaped relatively unscathed when the authority ended up approving only minor amendments to the rulebook. One of these was a formal English language requirement, but with TfL having detailed exactly what that means since, Uber has a new bone to pick. Starting October 1st, any driver originating from a primarily non-English-speaking country will have to pass a written exam in order to apply for or renew a private hire licence.

Uber argues the two-hour, B1-level test, which features a short essay portion, is more demanding than the British citizenship language requirement (of basic oral competence). Paired with its £200 fee, the fear is this hurdle will lead to fewer drivers on the roads and a reduced quality of service as a result of longer wait times. And so, once again, Uber is calling on the support of its sizable customer base to urge TfL to reconsider.

In an email to users, Uber makes its case for softening this language requirement, as well as protesting a rule forcing all private hire drivers to have year-round commercial insurance, and one that means Uber must notify TfL of any changes to its app ahead of time. These will put off part-time drivers and impede the rollout of new features, Uber argues.

The email also asks users to lobby London Mayor Sadiq Khan to revisit the regulations, and includes a quick-fire button that actually drafts an email to that effect on your behalf. And a quick scan of Twitter shows that some users aren't exactly thrilled Uber has gone to such lengths to rally the troops and do its dirty work.

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Uber takes the fight to TfL over new English exam for drivers