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http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9126692/the-case-against-london-black-cabs/

I was of course interested in this 'cos I'm doing The Knowledge myself, albeit more in theory than in practice- sod going out in the rain, so that's been the last two months written off. On the one hand he has some valid complaints- not taking the most direct route on the trip he opens the story with is AFAIK a huge pisstake, because the knowledge prioritises directness above all else. Deliberately slowing in an attempt to get caught at traffic lights is also taking the mick. But then IMO he screws his argument by complaining about unwillingness to barge into Box Junctions- which councils love to monitor via CCTV and dole out 60 quid a time tickets- just google how much they made out of the Parkgate Road junction south of Battersea Bridge while the Albert Bridge was closed! And then he strays into absurdity by claiming cabbies hope for an extra 20p by taking corners wide to add a couple of seconds onto the journey. Much of the fare for a short trip is the initial charge- so clearly the financial incentive would be to turn around loads of short trips as quickly as possible?

As a longstanding member of this forum I get economic arguments and fully understand that cabbies are dependent on their monopoly status on picking up ad-hoc fares in London. But I'm still prepared to chance the two years of my life it'll take me to get my badge on the probability that nobody will be brave enough to take on their monopoly in the next 15 years.

If I lose that bet, so be it- only two years of my life. And to make it fun I see doing my runs as sightseeing in my own city- I've already been to amazing places that I quite possibly might never have seen otherwise- currently I'd say Berkely Square and Victoria Park are the highlights...

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The fortunes of London's black cab drivers are intimately intertwined with the fortunes of the top 1%. Who else can afford to use them? If the top 1% suffer a big drop in income as happened during the Great Depression, the cabbies will be in trouble.

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The fortunes of London's black cab drivers are intimately intertwined with the fortunes of the top 1%. Who else can afford to use them? If the top 1% suffer a big drop in income as happened during the Great Depression, the cabbies will be in trouble.

Tourists seem to think it is normal to take a cab

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Tourists seem to think it is normal to take a cab

Yes, they like the friendly advise, the scenery and to take the atmosphere in......tourists I would have thought are a very necessary income for our cabbies. ;)

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The fortunes of London's black cab drivers are intimately intertwined with the fortunes of the top 1%. Who else can afford to use them? If the top 1% suffer a big drop in income as happened during the Great Depression, the cabbies will be in trouble.

Everyone who can charge for expenses.

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Probably a silly question.....but is doing the knowledge as important when there are now satnavs? ;)

+1

Extinction looms

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Probably a silly question.....but is doing the knowledge as important when there are now satnavs? ;)

Have you ever used a satnav? The are excellent in the right conditions but if you have even a reasonable amount of local knowledge you will know they are terrible at giving you the best route IMO. Every one I have used has had some major bit of information wrong and that's from the very very limited amount of roads I have used, often it will be asking for left turns when it's not allowed sending you down one way streets or places that not longer allow access. Often these are not things that have recently changed but things that have been in existence for years. Don't get me wrong it's an extremely difficult task, my method has been get me close enough and I can do the rest rather than 100% reliance on it getting me there.

I wouldn't be without one, but in the context of a cab they are not great. Pretty much every time I'm in a mini cab I'm thinking why the hell are they going this way, this would be particularly relevant in the maze that is Central London. In a black cab you jump in tell them where you want to go, your average mini cab takes god knows how long to mess around with his mobile looking for the place. The central part of the knowledge isn't streets it's points (land marks, hotels, restaurants, police stations etc) ask a mini cab driver where a specific hotel is and he will be asking you for the postcode.

If you want a cheaper cab which uses Satnavs there are plenty of alternatives.

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In New York badges for taxis can cost millions.

Artificial scarcity.

According to the French woman we had round for dinner last night, a similar system operates in Paris. In London the artificial scarcity is created by making 'The Knowledge' extremely onerous!

TBH though, I daresay that cities laid out on a grid system are a little easier to navigate... :lol:

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In New York badges for taxis can cost millions.

Artificial scarcity.

It may have changed in the last 10 years, but when I last looked at it, taxi provision in my home city was the closest mirror I ever found to the housing market.

There were 'cabbies' who never drove a mile, making money from renting the small number of taxi licenses to actual drivers, there were people buying licenses, speculating that their value might rise, and you can never get a f**ing taxi when you want one. Plenty of drivers were handing over thousands in rent from the money they actually had to earn, and most of the rest were paying out interest on the loan they used to buy the license.

Ridiculous that it should cost more than a couple of quid for a fifteen minute drive - how much does it actually cost to drive the same distance?

And yeah, satnavs. People who think they're good at map reading always complain about the accuracy of satnavs, but my last one never once failed to find the best route, It could handle road closures and congestion, and out of date maps aren't a problem if you subscribe, as you would expect professional drivers to do.

The whole system should be thrown in the bin. Taxi drivers should be paid a price for a service in a free market.

Right now they earn a rent by preventing people offering a service.

EDIT: Changing this doesn't seem to be on anyone's agenda as far as I know (what was that you said Osbrown? Free markets? laugh.gif), so don't let that affect your career choice!

EDIT2: One more thought - the provision of a cheap reliable taxi service enables many more people to rely on public transport, since you can't rely on buses and trains for some journeys, freeing up roads for petrolheads and cyclists, money for everyone else, and improving air quality. Basically, most of the improvements from the self-driving cars thread.

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You could say that for many industries and professions everywhere....protectionism against other often better competition, both in value and service..... ;)

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You could say that for many industries and professions everywhere....protectionism against other often better competition, both in value and service..... ;)

There is a difference.

Taxi drivers have to pass driving tests - that's protectionism. I'm not entirely opposed to that, although the knowledge is totally obsolete (without protectionism - this isn't career advice!).

The cars themselves have to have a special license plate. That plate can be traded or rented. It's this market that mirrors the housing market.

It's almost certainly not unique, patents are a bit like this, but I don't know of anything quite as blatant. It's not like you can sell your medical degree.

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Have you ever used a satnav? The are excellent in the right conditions but if you have even a reasonable amount of local knowledge you will know they are terrible at giving you the best route IMO. Every one I have used has had some major bit of information wrong and that's from the very very limited amount of roads I have used, often it will be asking for left turns when it's not allowed sending you down one way streets or places that not longer allow access. Often these are not things that have recently changed but things that have been in existence for years. Don't get me wrong it's an extremely difficult task, my method has been get me close enough and I can do the rest rather than 100% reliance on it getting me there.

I wouldn't be without one, but in the context of a cab they are not great. Pretty much every time I'm in a mini cab I'm thinking why the hell are they going this way, this would be particularly relevant in the maze that is Central London. In a black cab you jump in tell them where you want to go, your average mini cab takes god knows how long to mess around with his mobile looking for the place. The central part of the knowledge isn't streets it's points (land marks, hotels, restaurants, police stations etc) ask a mini cab driver where a specific hotel is and he will be asking you for the postcode.

If you want a cheaper cab which uses Satnavs there are plenty of alternatives.

My experience is the opposite in Leeds at any rate, my satnav on my android phone gives much better routes than I would come up with myself

I've also noticed excellent use of it by can firms. You phone the cab firm up saying which postcode you are going from and to, and that info is uploaded to the cabs satnav so he already has it loaded up for you when you get in

Leeds is not London however

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Ridiculous that it should cost more than a couple of quid for a fifteen minute drive - how much does it actually cost to drive the same distance?

If they were that cheap, you'd probably earn less than minimum wage once you've added up car costs & time waiting/driving back to good pick up location like a station.

That said I always blink twice when I hear the price of a cab fare. £15+ from here to local town (4 miles/10 min drive) pretty much ensures I'll never use them.

Having read the article I think he's being rather unfair on black cabs. I found them to be pretty considerate of cyclists when I lived in London.

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I have known minicabs not a blackcab, I have used in the past to knowingly drive all around the houses, could be to up the fare :unsure: .....until I pointed out the most direct route....I have given directions to minicabs that in those days before a satnav that didn't know the way to a place, a place where they should have known the way, new to the area no doubt...and I have been in a minicab that has got lost without a map and one that has broken down. ;)

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If they were that cheap, you'd probably earn less than minimum wage once you've added up car costs & time waiting/driving back to good pick up location like a station.

That said I always blink twice when I hear the price of a cab fare. £15+ from here to local town (4 miles/10 min drive) pretty much ensures I'll never use them.

Having read the article I think he's being rather unfair on black cabs. I found them to be pretty considerate of cyclists when I lived in London.

They are "professional drivers", and they are metered, and do not charge you "whatever they like". I've also found NYC cabs to be very good, more like a show really, must have sat on the Blarney Stone as a kid! :unsure:

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My experience is the opposite in Leeds at any rate, my satnav on my android phone gives much better routes than I would come up with myself

I've also noticed excellent use of it by can firms. You phone the cab firm up saying which postcode you are going from and to, and that info is uploaded to the cabs satnav so he already has it loaded up for you when you get in

Leeds is not London however

Well unless you have studied the best routes in Leeds for 3 years like a black cab driver in London has to then no reason to expect you to have a better idea than a satnav and as you say Leeds is a totally different kettle of fish from London.

As I was at pains to point out Satnavs are great and I wouldn't be without one, but they don not trump local knowledge at all. Perfect if you have a postcode but I doubt even a tiny percentage of people using black cabs have a postcode and a reasonable amount won't even have the correct street name.

This video is a bit of a mess but he makes some very good points. The main one being that what a satnav cannot do is make that jump in logic when people give you have the information, he has two good examples, a group looking for a specific restaurant on a specific road, he knows due to the knowledge and his experience there is no such restaurant on said road and is brain is capable of joining the dots. If all you have is a satnav and somebody with no experience (which is the logical extension in the early stages if your only entry in the black cab world is being in possession of a satnav) then you would have been driven off to totally the wrong place, you need to remember that London is full of similar sounding roads in completely different places. The other is a lady asking for a place that doesn't exist, fine if its a road as you will get suggestions, but in her case it was building which more than likely wouldn't have been on a satnav.

Obviously a case of Turkeys not voting for Christmas but doesn't mean it's not valid. Black Cabs are not for the ordinary folk to be honest you get in one for the very reasons above, you don't know the city, you have a vague idea of where your going and don't want to have to carry around a book full of post codes.

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