LEARNING CURVE: Andrew Vollo, who offers training courses for taxi drivers, says the city needs more rigorous continuing-ed courses for cabbies in such basic things as knowing their way around the streets.
Here’s a tip to cabbies who struggle with English or don’t know their way around town — there will be a test!
The city is looking to increase taxi-driver training in English, geography, driving skills, customer courtesy and all that new cab technology.
Also, training cabbies will no longer be a two-classes-and-done education. Instead, the Taxi and Limousine Commission wants the hacks to take refresher courses for as long as they have a license, said agency head Matthew Daus.
And recess is over for the 53,000 for-hire limo, livery and black-car drivers. They also will be required to take the same classes as the 47,000 yellow-cab drivers.
The plans were laid out in a request for information issued by the TLC late last week.
As a result, every TLC-approved driver should become more professional, Daus said.
The agency is hoping the public will chime in and send ideas to the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org by Aug. 1.
The document said the new set of sessions could include a test to assess how well drivers know English, the rules of the road and TLC mandates.
Current classes ask drivers to do role-playing exercises to learn how, for example, to deal with an unruly passenger.
“As long as we continue to get complaints about service, we’ll improve the programs,” Daus said.
Daus said the current tests, after either one three-day course or a more extensive 10-day, 80-hour course, with a follow-up test one year later, simply weren’t hacking it.
“I don’t think we do enough [training], and I’d like to see more of it,” Daus said. “I think the continuing education of drivers can do more than that.”
Drivers were struggling to keep up with the TLC’s rules, like understanding the credit- and debit-card reader systems that many hacks found confounding at first.
The new classes will make sure the drivers are current on the latest cab technology.
“We’re responding to complaints that rules are too complicated,” Daus said.
TLC-accredited taxi teachers said it was about time the agency revamped the curriculum.
“It’s so apparent, so obvious, and important that they do this,” said Andrew Vollo, who runs the Taxi and FHV Driver Institute at La Guardia Community College and plans to submit ideas.
He said some drivers could use training on speeding and cellphone use while driving.
“This, in my mind, promises to be big,” he said. “We’re going to wind up with real professional drivers.”
Livery and other for-hire cars won’t have to worry about the English section of any new classes, Daus said, because city law doesn’t require that they speak the language.
But those drivers will be tested on driving, geography, customer interaction and new rules about clearly marking livery cars to prevent fraud, Daus said.