London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

About London Taxi Drivers

26/05/2001, By Gabrielle Carey

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 15178 votes

Dear Sean and all other "Real" London Taxi Drivers: I travelled to London in early April this year. It was my first time in Europe, although I'm 42. I should have come long ago, because I had a wonderful time and London is now my favourite city. One of my most favourable impressions came from the quaint and marvellous taxi drivers!

Perhaps, I missed my husband back in Texas or maybe I'm just a devastating flirt, but I had a wonderful time with all but one of my London taxi drivers. The only one who was unfriendly and officious, and who came very close to getting his head bitten off, was not a "real" English taxi driver. He didn't have "the knowledge" or any respect for female people.

The three years of study makes a very noticeable difference. Too bad those three years of study are not paid or compensated somehow. There is nothing to substitute for a fun-filled conversation with a knowledgeable guide who is really interested in convincing you his city is as wonderful as it is!

I adore London cabbies! Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to travel with a female London cabbie, are there any??? Like all good things, taxi drivers with expertise are expensive. I hope the tradition does not disappear.

Although the city is set up for transportation ease, London needs more transportation, especially more taxis and trains.

Thanks for some great rides cabbies,

Gabrielle Carey, Ph.D.
San Antonio, Texas USA

Editor's Response: I am so glad that you enjoyed the article by Sean Farrell, I am hoping that we will manage to persuade him to contribute further in the future. Presumably the 'rude' taxi driver was not a black cab driver, but operating a mini-cab, as they are unlicensed and we warn people about them on Virtual London.

There are quite a few female cab drivers now, and the numbers have been going up in recent years.

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Re: About London Taxi Drivers

By Josie Allison 12/06/2001, (Rating: 2.9 from 14297 votes)


My name is Josie and I live in Southern California, USA but I love London, I think it's a wonderful city..

I enjoy reading all the articles in the London Lantern every month as they keep me up to date with what is happening there. I particularly like the new links you have included about the hotels and the stately homes, it was a very good idea.

I thought your article about the London Taxi drivers was very interesting. I have a few friends in London who are Black taxi drivers and I have forwarded this issue of the London Lantern to the editor of Call Sign Magazine, the in-house magazine for Dial-a-Cab, one of the major Black Taxi companies in London who is a personal friend of mine. I know he will enjoy reading it and find your article very interesting the same as I have.

I adore London cabbies as well, I think they are unique, you can't find cabbies like that anywhere in the US. I have to agree that the passing "The Knowledge" exam after three years of studying as all the black taxi cabs must do is what makes the big difference.

Keep up the good work and I'm looking forward to reading the next month issue of London Lantern.


Josie Allison.

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Re: About London Taxi Drivers

By Leon Oldbury 01/09/2002, (Rating: 2.9 from 13890 votes)

I drive a bus every night in Central London and see all the facets of London Taxi Drivers. They certainly have good knowledge and road experience. But one thing becomes very clear quickly is that they seem to be polarised. There are no average cabbies - they are either very good or abysmal drivers. The good ones are a pleasure to work alongside. They are courteous, well-mannered, lane-disciplined and sensible when picking up and setting down passengers. We work well with these and give way to each other in a give-and-take system, which allows traffic to flow reasonably smoothly. Others, however, have no regard for other road users and break every rule of law and highway code. I was emerging from the Strand into Aldwych last night when one leapt from the direction of Waterloo Bridge, jumping the lights to pick up a fare who was standing (rather stupidly) right on the corner near the theatre. Then, instead of pulling in to allow the correct traffic to pass, he stopped 6 feet from the kerb at a 45 degree angle, effectively blocking the entire junction while he had a long conversation as to where he was to go. Then, on top of all that, did a U-turn in the middle of the junction, causing vehicles to brake heavily and swerve to miss him. It is unfortunate that such rogues are allowed to exist and give the cab industry a very bad name.

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