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We put city cabbies to the test

David McCourt finds out if taxi drivers in Manchester still have the knowledge.

Published on April 28th 2011.

We put city cabbies to the test

SOME taxi drivers in Manchester haven’t passed a knowledge test in 50 years.

Confidential decided to carry out some research after feedback from frustrated readers. Do drivers know where they’re going? Do they have the knowledge?

Devised from Manchester City Council's own practice paper questions, we took to the streets to see if cabbies could pass the test.

“It was a police inspector who did my test, Ins. Johnson he was called. He asked me to take him to Granada and that was that.”

Drivers working out of the Princess Street, Peter Street, and Spinningfields taxi ranks were tested on the location of popular city centre destinations such as hotels, cultural landmarks and bars and clubs.

They all got three out of four right, but failed the same question………where is Paparazzi?

It is, of course, in the Printworks.

We even found one driver who hadn’t been retested since he first passed more than 50 years.

Alan, from Ramsbottom in Bury, has been working as a taxi driver in Manchester since 1960. He still remembers the knowledge he did over 50 years ago:

“It was a police inspector who did my test, Ins. Johnson he was called. He asked me to take him to Granada and that was that.”

Stan, from Stockport, has been driving a taxi in Manchester for 19 years. He passed a written knowledge test much like the one drivers have to take today.

“I found it quite difficult but I got through it in the end,” he said. “I’ve not seen a test since but I doubt it’s the same now as the one I did.”

Under the current system, to get a Hackney Carriage Drivers licence from Manchester City Council, candidates have to pass a skills assessment test and attend a coaching session before finally taking a knowledge test on Manchester and nearby areas.

But drivers are never re-tested – which would seem crazy in a city that has seen as much regeneration and development as Manchester.

Manchester City Council said that apart from ‘exceptional circumstances’, they would not ask a taxi driver to re-sit their knowledge test.

“If we get a number of complaints about a specific driver’s lack of knowledge, a re-sit is something that would be considered,” said a spokesman.

Should drivers be retested regularly? What’s been your best/worst taxi experience in the city? Rant below. 







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14 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Paul ReynoldsApril 28th 2011.

If your going to test taxi drivers on there knowledge of Manchester at least get your own right 1st,Paparazzi shut ages ago and is now called Entourage.

1 Response: Reply To This...
David McCourtApril 28th 2011.

The questions were Manchester City Council's own practice paper questions, not Man Con's...

EditorialApril 28th 2011.

Good point Paul. Thing was that our writer used the actual papers used by the council in their knowledge test to find questions to ask the drivers.

Paul ReynoldsApril 28th 2011.

Jesus were all doomed with this council then lol

Smyth HarperApril 28th 2011.

Good spot on Paparazzi, Paul. Thanks for pointing it out. In our mitigation, this is just in a sample questions that's in the pack that prospective cabbies receive rather than a question asked in the actual test, but we've flagged it up to the relevant people in our licensing department.

On the knowledge, I'm not sure there are too many places that would require cabbies to retake this test. As far as I'm aware the daddy of them all - the London Knowledge - is only done once. I think the idea is that if you're driving round the streets several hours a day you get to know a city quite well.

If Mancon readers have problems with a cabbie for any reason, there's a straightforward complaints process on our website at http://www.manchester.gov.uk/taxicomplaints

The thing to remember is to try and get their number as that makes it easier for the council to investigate.

There's also a link at the above address to a page where you can also send praise if you get good service. There's plenty of them out there!

Smyth Harper
Head of News
Manchester City Council

1 Response: Reply To This...
Smyth HarperApril 28th 2011.

Yikes, that should read "sample question" rather than "sample questions" in the first sentence. *slaps wrist for poor grammar*

Simon SmithApril 29th 2011.

Manchester's city centre is small so I never need a taxi to get around it. I can walk or cycle.

All the streets have the same name as 20 years ago. I don't think it is the business of any regulatory body to make cab drivers keep up with all the ephemeral names of the allegedly trendy pubs and bars the youngsters use.

David BishopMay 3rd 2011.

In general I think cabbies in Manchester are awful for knowing where places are, especially bad for restaurants (even ones that have been there for a long time). Worst than that though is the new trait that they seem to have taken on is asking for the fare upfront after 12 at night - nice way to both insult your customer and do yourselves out of tips on that one.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Phil NichollsMay 3rd 2011.

I was fairly certain that they can only ask for the fare up front if the journey extends more than four miles from the edge of the city. Other than that, it is what is on the meter when you reach your destination. Had this problem last year when a cabbie tried to charge me and the missus £15 to get from Restaurant Bar Grill to Hulme Park. Even after midnight it is no more than £7-£8!!

Edward GranterMay 3rd 2011.

I got a Hackney cab the other week from Picadilly, and the driver used a Sattelite Navigation device, into which he entered my postcode. Not sure what I think of that really - does it matter if he doesn't know exactly where such and such a road in West Didsbury is?

Hannah SkeltonMay 4th 2011.

worst i had was a cabbie ask me how to get from my flat (near Marble Arch pub) to Oxford Road... Admittedly this was a private hire not a black cab, but still!!

Steve5839May 7th 2011.

Alot of taxies in Manchester always seem to take the longest way round - if I know the quickest way from Piccadilly station to Failsworth is via Brisco Lane then so should they and not always head for Oldham Road.

Also, do the rules of a Hackney Cab change on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday night - as all they do on those nights is rank to rank - no stop me a hire me those nights.

James SpencerMay 9th 2011.

unlike London, Manchester Cabbies rarely know where anything is or was.. I take my AtoZ in my manbag

Paul HoslerJanuary 12th 2013.

i honestly think manchester cabbies get a raw deal they deal with all kinds of people every day get verbal abuse and alco,s to put up with i agree some do take liberties and who cares if a driver uses sat nav to get me where i want to go ive drove all over the uk with sat nav try step in they,re shoes for a day see how quick people are to judge

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