(L - R): Mariusz Zabrocki, Gert Kratov, Nour Rasamny and Dean Warrington.

‘Industry-first’ measures announced to “save London's iconic Black Cab industry”

FREENOW UK has announced that the 20,000+ London Private Hire Vehicle drivers on its app will have the chance to expand their careers by accessing a financial subsidy that will support them in completing the Knowledge of London and becoming black cab drivers.

In an ‘industry-first’, FREENOW will be funding 100 per cent of the application cost, tuition fee, exams and licensing required to the value of over two thousand pounds per driver over a minimum period of two years.

The company will be working in partnership with two leading schools, Knowledge Point School and WizAnn, which are also hosting information sessions for PHV drivers interested in pursuing this career. The announcement comes as an internal FREENOW survey of all PHV drivers in London revealed that:

  • Over half (52 per cent) have considered becoming a black cab driver
  • Nearly half (49 per cent) think the Knowledge should be made simpler
  • 40 per cent think passing the Knowledge should take less time
  • 34 per cent stated they would consider doing the Knowledge if financial support was available.

This FREENOW initiative aims at helping to tackle the continuous drop in the number of black cab licence applications. Licence applications dropped by almost 95 per cent in the last decade, and while demand has bounced back, the number of licensed black cab drivers continues to fall (27 per cent decrease in the number of licensed black cab drivers in London, from over 21,000 in 2013/2014 down to 15,000+ in October 2023).

Introduced in 1865, the Knowledge requires taxi drivers to memorise thousands of roads and routes within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross, including a range of popular destinations, including hospitals, nightclubs, and theatres.

The Knowledge takes an average of three to four years to complete, requiring a significant financial investment over this period of time, which, including all costs associated with it, can reach up to 10,000 pounds.

Mariusz Zabrocki, General Manager at FREENOW UK, commented: “At FREENOW, our goal is to support our drivers to thrive within the industry. The applications for black cab licences have dropped from over 3K in 2011/12 to just 221 in 2022.

We want to help reignite the industry by supporting experienced and knowledgeable private hire vehicle drivers to progress in their careers and help them complete their studies through financial aid and learning support.

“Increasing the number of black cab drivers in the city will benefit local businesses, including shops, restaurants, bars, theatres and the tourism industry, ultimately bolstering London’s economy.”

By Matthew Neville – Senior Correspondent, Bdaily

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