New York’s Cabbies Don’t Need to Know Where They Are Going

March 9, 2015 | Prachi Gupta

The city is making it easier to become a cabbie. The New York Times reports that the Taxi & Limousine Commission has dropped a significant portion of the geography questions from its rigorous 80-question test, meaning that cabbies won’t know New York City’s streets as well as they once did, which was never that good.

TLC spokesperson Allan Fromberg says the TLC test is “catching up to the times” in an era of GPS technology. However, use of GPS devices are only allowed when a cab is parked or standing, the Times notes.

Others attribute the move as a way to stay competitive with companies like Uber and Lyft, which have cut into the taxi market.

Regardless of the reason, it’s evident that more and more cabbies aren’t going to know where they’re going. A J Gogia, who operates A J Yellow Taxi Tutors, doesn’t even teach prospective cab drivers the ins-and-outs of local streets anymore.

Here’s what the test looks like now:

The commission, he said, is developing a new training and licensing curriculum with more emphasis on safety, accessibility and customer service. Training centers would be instructed to teach GPS navigation, he said, and a revamped test could include geography questions. “The chance that a licensed cabdriver is not going to know where major tourist attractions are is slim to none,” Mr. Fromberg said.

Half of the 80-question test, 30 questions on English-language proficiency and the 10 on map reading, is unchanged. Of the remaining 40, up to 25 questions may have covered geography, Mr. Gogia said, with the remainder covering rules. Now they all pertain to rules and regulations, students who have taken the rest in recent weeks said.

Gogia’s advice to future drivers who don’t know how to get to a rider’s destination? “If you don’t know where something is, tell the passenger, ‘The T.L.C. never tested me on it, so it’s not my problem.’”

(Photo: Kenny Louie)