Mick Tostevin has spoken in defence of the test after the Infrastructure Department announced that it was ‘reviewing’ it as part of ‘improvements’ to the Island’s taxi industry.
The Knowledge test – similar to the one which black cab drivers in London have to pass before they become licensed – asks prospective taxi drivers the route they would take between set points, naming the roads they would drive along on their journey.
Examiners may also test the drivers on relevant laws, as well as vehicle maintenance and the Highway Code.
An Infrastructure spokeswoman confirmed that the department was reviewing the Knowledge test among other aspects of the taxi industry. However, they would not be drawn further on Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel’s proposed plans, which are due to be released at the beginning of next month.
Mr Tostevin said that the test – which costs £76 – was ‘important’, as it ensured that taxi drivers knew their way around the Island.
He added that he hoped his replacement – Steve Marsh, who is due to become president of the Jersey Taxi Drivers’ Association on Monday – would have a better relationship with the next Infrastructure Minister. Deputy Noel is not seeking re-election in May. The association and Infrastructure were at loggerheads last year after the minister brought in new regulations resulting in taxi drivers going on strike.
‘The last few years have been quite stressful for us, as you can imagine. Let’s hope Steve Marsh gets to deal with somebody more reasonable than Eddie Noel,’ Mr Tostevin said.
The Infrastucture Department is not the first to question whether Knowledge-type tests should be scrapped or modified in their current form. In 2015 the Greater London Authority Conservatives called the test ‘archaic’ and a ‘major barrier’ to recruitment.
The critique came after the release of ‘The Saving An Icon’ report by Richard Tracey, member of the London Assembly and former Conservative politician, who said that black cab drivers needed to make ‘fundamental changes’ to keep up with the ‘increasingly popular app-based private hire firms’ such as Uber.