Glasgow taxi drivers tested on their English and knowledge of the city

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UNION reps in Glasgow have become the first taxi drivers to be tested on their English and knowledge of the city as part of a new exam.

The test is being introduced to raise standards in the taxi and private hire industry following a sharp rise in passenger complaints.

Committee members at Unite the union’s Glasgow Cab Section, which will provide the Scottish Qualifications Authority course, sat the exam last week.

Figures recently revealed complaints made against cab companies in the city had more than doubled in five years.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of incidents rose from 430 to 1,038.

Glasgow is the second local authority in Scotland, after Dundee, to introduce the test, which will replace the current customer care course.

Calum Anderson, chairman of the Glasgow Cab Section, said: “With complaints against the taxi and private hire trades more than doubling over the past few years, it was self-evident something had to be done to improve the standards, and give the public the level of service befitting Scotland’s largest city.

“Following on from successes in Liverpool and Dundee, the Glasgow Cab Section presented the Scottish Vocational Qualification to Glasgow City Council Licensing who, led by councillor Alex Wilson, embraced the idea.

“As the Glasgow Cab Section will be a provider of the course, it was only correct we had committee members be the first to sit it.

“Everyone, regardless of years in the trade, took something from the course and are certain it will benefit the trade greatly in the long term.”

Over the past year, applicants have had their licence bids turned down after being unable to locate Glasgow landmarks.

In February, one man was denied a cab licence when he couldn’t identify the city chambers, despite standing inside the building opposite.

Glasgow City Council’s licensing committee has also dealt with numerous complaints about drivers pirating and over-charging fares.

It is hoped introducing the qualification will improve the level of customer service received by passengers.

Drivers will have to take nine mandatory units, including professional customer service, plan routes and fares, maintain the safety of the licensed vehicle and mobility and wheelchair assistance.

The course will start in January and is expected to cost between £300 and £400 per driver.

Existing licence holders who need to renew from April 1 next year will be required to complete their training before renewing their licence.