by Toffler



Cab drivers’ ‘Knowledge’

February 24, 2007, by TofflerN, category Uncategorized

To become a London cabbie, you have to learn what is called the Knowledge: the location of every street within a 10km (six-mile) radius of the centre.  This takes years of part-time study.  If you fail the exam, you do not get a license.  — The Economist

What a great idea!  I wish that was the true in Shanghai.  Maybe then the confused, lost laowai passenger wouldn’t be giving directions to the cab or wondering why the cab driver left him off 2 blocks away from where he wanted to go.  Everyone would get to their destination.  I think that would be a great way to solve the problem of cab drivers who can’t figure out how to get to my apt when its only 5 blocks away.

But the flip side is that if they screened cab drivers that strongly, few would pass and then there would be less cabs to be had at all.  This would be a big problem. I think everyone has at one point spent more than 20 minutes looking for a taxi, particularly in the rain. Some people, myself included have spent over 1 hour looking for a taxi and finally ended up having to walk or take the bus.  How ridiculous!  Well, then I think it would be worse to have fewer taxis than to have more competent drivers.

Perhaps the Shanghai city government can require ongoing study and memorization of Shanghai city streets for cab drivers to keep their licenses.  Every 3 years or so they must take the city streets test and demonstrate greater proficiency than the previous time to keep their license.   Sounds like a good plan to me!  Perhaps they can do the same thing with English proficiency, especially leading up to 2010 World Expo…


  1. Crash Test Dummy |

    It’s not just Shanghai. Those of us used to London black cabs get frustrated in every city in the world. It’s a great system. When I have suggested it to cab drivers here they just laugh. Of course we have lots of un-licensed cabs in London too – they are just as lost as Shanghai cabbies and often speak even less English. It’s almost as bad as New York! 🙂

  2. Jacquee |

    I think your suggestion can be realized by some sort of technology. The cabbie can simply imput (or just yell out) the name of the place you want to go as the key word for a digital map system. The map will then show where the place is located and tell out which road is in jam then providing the clue for the driver on the most efficient route to go.

    There should have exsited this sort of system, but which hasn’t been put on the taxi so far and the database is not able to contain detailed infomation like dealers or apartment names. When the 3G network is introduced, the location based services will be much more enhanced.

So, what do you think ?