London Taxi Cabbies: Info and Tips
When you travel in any large city you’ll need transportation! In London you have lots of choices – the tube is a fun and very efficient choice and the buses are double decker. Those are fun choices that you’ll want to experience with the kids, but don’t dare miss the opportunity to take a black London cab. Why are London cabbies so extra special? They don’t use GPS. Instead, they spend years learning every single street….landmarks and details of the London area. This is an extra cool tidbit and something cool to discuss with the kids while you are waiting for a cab. Ask them if they would like this job!
London Taxi Cabbies have bigger brains!
London Taxi Cabbies are some of the most interesting taxi cab drivers in the world because they do not use GPS or maps. Instead, in order to receive the green badge, displayed in all London taxi cabs, and become a London taxi cab driver, you must pass the Test of Knowledge.
THE Test of Knowledge
This intimidating sounding test is not simple memorization as we know it for tests and classes. Studying for the test of all tests, called The Knowledge, takes years. London Taxi Cabbies must memorize ALL 25,000 streets and the locations of 20,000 landmarks within a six mile radius of Charing Cross and learn 320 routes between them.
Those studying for the test are called Knowledge Boys or Girls and often are seen around the city on scooters. On average, it takes 3 years to study for and pass the exam.
Cabbies have been pitted against GPS and other computer programs and so far…cabbies always win. They are quite proud of their ability to set routes in their head within seconds.
Increased brain power
The study for this test is so intense that their brains actually change from all the knowledge. Did you catch that? Their brains actually CHANGE. The section of the brain that is responsible for spatial navigation, the hippocampus, is much larger in experienced taxi cabbies than in the general public. AND the longer the taxi cabbie has been driving, the larger that part of the brain becomes.
This is especially interesting to researchers because it is an example of increasing the brain in adulthood. Most research on brain changes had been done on children so researchers find this group of taxi cabbies especially interesting because all information required for taxi driving is learned in adulthood.
Those who finally succeed and pass the knowledge test have a tradition of the first fare…their first riders are taken free of charge.
Could you take the Test of Knowledge? Would you? Whether or not you are interested in becoming a cabbie, remember this….you can increase your brain power! You can actually increase your brain size! The brain is a muscle so exercise it and strengthen it by learning and exploring!
Increase YOUR child’s knowledge of things in London with my Travel Guide on London written JUST for Kids! This activity filled guide is fun for the plane ride over to London. Get your kids ready for the trip so they’ll remember it and grow their brains in the process!
Tips for using Taxi Cabbies in London:
How to Pay for your cab ride.
How to hail a cab properly.
It is illegal to yell ‘TAXI’. Perhaps the English are too civilized for that? If you yell ‘taxi’ they will not stop for you. Instead, stick out your arm when the taxi is approaching. Only the ones with the ‘taxi’ sign lit are ready for passengers. When the taxi stops, tell the driver where you want to go, BEFORE getting in.
London Taxi Cabs are Accessible to All.
Not only are ALL London taxi cabs handicapped accessible, they will also take assistance dogs at no charge.
Which to choose: black taxi cab or mini cab?
Black Taxis can be hailed on the street while mini cabs can only be reserved ahead of time. Black Taxis are a little more expensive than mini cabs but are a fascinating part of the London experience as your driver is incredibly knowledgable!
If you head to London you’ll want LOTS of information to create the trip of a lifetime for your family!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist