The taxi-riding public in Bradford has been complaining about not being able to exchange a few words with a taxi driver. For them it had been a common practice to exchange some pleasantries with the cab driver, maybe talk about the weather or life in general or perhaps talk about their day or how to get from here to there. But with most taxi drivers employed now being foreigners who cannot converse with them, they are demanding that they be sent a cab with an English-speaking driver when they order for a taxi pick-up. They have been so used to English cab drivers who used to regale them with small talk.
Bradford council findings and response
The city council of Bradford found that a number of foreign taxi drivers in the city does not have the capability to conduct simple conversation in English and the customers who have been used to the talking with the driver en route to their destination miss having their little chats.
Even a simple question that could be answered with a yes or no are met with silence. Minicab and taxi operators also admitted that most people are now requesting for drivers who could speak English.
Before the complaints piled up, it was easy for foreign drivers to convince licensing officers in Bradford that they speak English as a second language because the rules were easy. The rule only required them to show “a basic understanding of spoken and written English” that meant asking driver-applicants to read a paragraph from a book. They were also asked to fill up a receipt as part of their exam to get a license.
The city councilors have now drafted a plan which will be presented this week whereby the cabbie applicants will be asked to take a conversation test so that their language skills could be determined.
The test will involve a council worker giving them a series of normal conversational questions that they must answer, according to licensing manager Carol Stos.
Initial response to the plan
UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage welcomed the idea and hopes that their initiative would inspire other cities and towns as well as London to follow suit. He added that traveling by taxi is expensive and it is nice to have a good chat while on the road. He said that he had ridden many taxis around the city and even those from reputable companies that employed Romanian taxi drivers who were very good at using the satellite navigation system or sat-nav barely exchanged a word with him throughout his trips.
For an integrated society, it is very important for people to speak the English language, according to Mr. Farage, which was seconded by senior people in the taxi industry, such as the Bradford Private Hire Liaison Service and the National Taxi Operation. They added that it is common sense to be able to communicate with passengers and that it will definitely serve the public’s interests if foreign taxi drivers are able to conduct conversation in English.