London Black Cab crisis: Big push for new drivers to take The Knowledge with fears over future of famous taxis

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a considerable fall in driver numbers, and industry insiders are increasingly concerned about the future of Black Cabs.

London Black Cab groups have launched a big push to encourage drivers to take up the world-famous Knowledge test, with fears the iconic industry could die out.

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the historic profession hard, with cabbies quitting the industry and fewer people becoming taxi drivers.

This has resulted in a considerable fall in driver numbers and in Knowledge student numbers, and insiders are increasingly concerned about the future of Black Cabs.

The number of new applications for black cab licences has dropped by almost 95% in a decade, from 3,484 in 2011-12 to just 221 in 2021.

As a result, London Taxi PR, a group which promotes the historic industry, has launched the largest ever campaign to promote the Knowledge, and encourage new drivers.

The famous Black Cab test - which dates back to the 1800s - requires cabbies to memorise almost every road in the capital, and the fastest routes from A to Z.

London Black Cabs are facing a crisis with drivers leaving the industry, and few people taking the arduous Knowledge exam. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

It’s been important in creating the iconic Black Cab legacy of a safety and knowledge of the best routes to get their customers to their destinations.

Drivers are required to know a six-mile radius of Charing Cross - which encompasses 133 square miles - and learn 320 routes, along with places of interest and important landmarks.

The daunting task takes between two and four years to learn, and has made London Black Cabs the most famous taxis in the world.

London Taxi PR has set up The Knowledge billboards on 31 digital screens across London, in some prominent sites.

“Our intention is to extend this further by additional promotion, which will see the campaign given a fresh impetus to those both within the profession, so they can see what we are doing, and importantly to those who potentially could be considering embarking on The Knowledge and the journey to become a licensed London Taxi driver,” communications director Andy Scott said.

The Knowledge Campaign - LTPR

He explained: “The students who are on The Knowledge or considering it as their new career will become the drivers of the future.

They will either rent or purchase a Taxi, purchase a credit card machine, use the garages for repairs and maintenance, take out insurance, join one of the unions, use the Taxi Shelters and hopefully sign up to support London Taxi PR.

“This benefits everyone connected with the profession and of course at the end of the day the customers.”

All the publicity that has so far been generated by the establishment have been funded by fellow London Taxi drivers and businesses within the profession.