Black cabs are as iconic to the London transportation scene as yellow cabs are in New York City. They have been a staple for generations, and their knowledge of the city is unparalleled. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be a black cab driver, here’s just the surface of what you need to do to become a black cab driver, and what it’s like working as one:
Becoming a Black Cab Driver
To really understand what it’s like to be a black cab driver you first need to understand what it takes to become one. They are entirely unlike Uber drivers or other private contractors today because of the amount of training that goes into becoming one.
Passing The Knowledge
The Knowledge is an infamous test that black cab drivers must pass and complete. The Knowledge has been a prerequisite for taxi drivers in the capital since 1865. It usually takes drivers between three to four years to completely learn everything they need to.
In fact, it’s actually recommended that you get a scooter or motorbike in order to physically practice the runs in question. To pass and earn your license you will need to pass the written examination and then make three to five appearances, which are oral exams that take around 20 minutes to complete.
There are Knowledge schools as well, which help improve your visual and contextual knowledge of London. Though businesses may change often, streets don’t, so drivers have a leg-up there.
Getting Your Vehicle
Most black cab drivers own their own vehicle, rather than rent one out. You too can own and operate your own cab and keep all of the costs in-house. This does mean more maintenance work, but overall can help you save. There are black cabs for sale both new and used, though they do require you go through stringent checks. When buying or renting a black cab you need to make sure that you’re getting your vehicle from an approved London proprietor. They too need to have a license from the city, to prove that the vehicles they are either selling or renting are up to code.
What it’s Like Working as a Black Cab Driver
As a private cab driver you work your hours. You are your own boss. You get to choose whether you work nights to hopefully get those higher fares (particularly on weekends when everyone is trying to get home clubbing) or you may prefer to work regular 9 to 5 hours to get home to your family.
Regardless, there are people to taxi. When you operate in one of the busiest cities in the world, and one of the richest, there is no shortage of people from businesspeople to tourists who are happy to take a black cab just to get to where they are going.
There are of course downsides, like rowdy drunk passengers, but if you know how to stay calm and stay authoritative in those instances you will do just fine. You are the boss, after all! Not only that, but it’s possible to make £60,000 as a black cab driver, so it’s lucrative as well.