The knowledge

14 Aug 2006 | 220 words | london gps maps public transport traffic

Ars technica has a sweet little write-up about the fact that London cabbies apparently reject satellite navigation devices (which they are allowed to use since beginning of this year). The main reason seems to be pride in having passed the notoriously difficult exam (‘the knowledge‘) which is required to get a license:

Cabbies have two basic reasons for not embracing the systems, one rooted in technology and the other in psychology. For one thing, the devices still do not give the kind of perfect directions that are needed by someone who makes a living driving a car about the city. But secondly, the devices also remove the mystique that surrounds the Knowledge and the pride that passing the exam gives to cabbies. With a satellite navigation unit, just about anyone can become a cabbie and they can do it without studying.

Now everybody who was forced to take a cab in Amsterdam in the last couple of years will be able to attest to the fact that it is indeed a very bad idea if (a) ‘just about anyone’ can become a cabbie and (b) they do rely on satellite navigation which does not work in congested European city centers. Kind of surprising to see that that conservative stubbornness of the islanders does have positive effects once in a while…