The Knowledge Point: London’s largest black-cab school. Here, aspiring cabbies are taught the ways of the Knowledge, by which they earn their license. It involves memorising the 25,000 streets of inner London, all its hotels and landmarks, and learning how to mentally formulate routes. Less than a third of applicants make it to the end.
Why’s it closing?
Firstly, the building the school currently resides in on the Caledonian Road is being demolished to make way for – drum roll – luxury apartments, and the rising rents will make it very hard for the school to stay in the area. But there’s also been a sharp decline in applicants, as it’s no longer the attractive profession it once was, due to the rise of –
You guessed it. The app-based service, which now has tens of thousands of drivers operating across the capital, continues to threaten to send the black cab the way of the dodo.
Well, it’s loads cheaper. And super-convenient too.
Yes: Uber can be simply seen as the better consumer option in a competitive market. And it’s brought employment to many Londoners, who can also work the flexible hours around other jobs. But there’s no denying that you get what you pay for. Uber drivers aren’t required to learn the Knowledge, relying on the aid of sat-navs and smartphones instead. There’s also some concern over the background checks of its drivers. And finally, the black cab has just topped the list of ‘London transport design icons’, as polled by TfL. E-hailing a nondescript Toyota just isn’t the same, surely?