THE 'KNOWLEDGE OF LONDON'
All London taxi drivers are required to have a detailed knowledge of London within a 6 mile radius of Charing Cross. In order to obtain this candidates have to pass through the world renowned "Knowledge of London".
The Knowledge requires candidates to learn a total of 320 routes that criss-cross London and are specifically designed to leave no gaps. Taxi drivers have to also remember all places of interest or note en route: embassies, colleges, buildings, municipal offices and all other public buildings, hotels, theatres, stations, hospitals, museums, restaurants - and the list goes on.
There are 10,000's streets, roads and places of interest within the 6 mile radius. Drivers must also learn all one-way and restricted turn intricacies.
It takes a candidate between two to four years - depending whether they are doing the Knowledge part or full time - to get through. It is done entirely at the candidates' own expense and when they have completed the Knowledge for the 6 mile radius - which is tested orally on one-to-one appearances by Transport for London examiners - they are required to do a crash course (and be tested on) all of the main arterial routes in and out of London's sprawling suburbs.
Conversely, a private hire (minicab) driver has to only demonstrate his ability to read a map book.
The Knowledge is important for customers as it assures them of the most direct and cost effective route on any journey, saving you time and money. Minicab drivers, who are less likely to know where they are going, normally charge by the mile, so the longer they take (if they get lost) the more it could cost you.
There is a Suburban Knowledge too for drivers who wish to work just a suburban sector.
You can tell the difference by the colour of their Cab Driver Badge: Green is for the all-London Knowledge and Yellow for a suburban sector Knowledge.