2018 © The Hackney Hack.
As a Knowledge Boy until you get your badge you are not in the trade, You apply, complete all the relevant checks and medical then TFL send you a letter saying you have been (hopefully) accepted, a blue book and a link to some videos for you to look at. You will not see or meet anyone in person from application until your 1st appearance therefore unless you have a family member or friend tell you what its really like or join a knowledge school you are left doing your runs believing things like cab drivers have always said “the games dead” but now I started to see for myself the yellow lights on the empty cabs in London while out doing runs.
I started to think, you spend your own money to apply and learn, there are no grants available and currently a school membership will cost between £50.00 & £55.00 a month with the average time of 3 to 5 years to complete that is a large financial and time commitment for an education that has no degree at the end of it.
Once you achieve your “req” (the required standard to be granted a badge) TFL as the Taxi regulator quite rightly dictates the fare you charge the vehicle you drive and the standard you must maintain it to, if a complaint is made against you by a member of the public TFL will deal with you as they see fit, no wonder Black Cab Drivers are regarded as the best in world, TFL tests and then regulates them into being the best. If you don’t have the right temperament to be on The Knowledge TFL will simply remove you from the process, if you’re not up to the required standard you will be left going round in circles for years until you do.
In the BBC program Modern Times Streetwise, knowledge boy (when you start you are a boy until you get your badge then you are “but ta boy” or butter boy) Jim Nolan was stopped by the Police for a driving offence while out doing runs on his bike, the response from the examiner was “we do no not want unsafe drivers driving cabs in London”. It must be a difficult job for TFL to keep track of the 117000 Mini Cabs drivers that are now in London, their passengers deserve at a minimum to be just as safe as if they where in a Black Cab.
Note: TFL have now as of 2017 started to give the introductory talk again, great news for new applicants.