Operating a worldwide ride-sharing platform means that Uber often finds itself disputing local rules and regulations. Most of these battles have been about taxes permits, insurance, or background checks for drivers, but a new directive handed down by London’s transportation agency requires drivers to pass an English language proficiency exam.
Transport for London (TfL) — which oversees all of the city’s private car services, buses, and subways — announced the new rules on Tuesday, requiring all Uber drivers to prove they are proficient in English when applying for both new and renewed licenses.
“It is essential for public safety that all licensed drivers can communicate in English at an appropriate level,” the agency says on its website. “Communicating with passengers to discuss a route, or fare, as well as reading, understanding and being able to respond to important regulatory, safety and travel information sent by TfL is crucial to a driver’s role in transporting the public.”
Under the new rules, drivers must pay a fee to complete the test — which can be taken at certain area colleges — or find other documentation or certificates that prove they have fluency in English.
Drivers who applied for a license on, or after, Oct. 14, 2016 must satisfy the English language requirement by no later than March 31, 2017. If the driver fails to take the test, they could face licensing action, TfL says on its website.
After April 1, 2017, all applicants must provide evidence they meet the English language requirement as part of their application, before a license is issued.
The recently passed rules differ from TfL’s first proposal, The Verge reports. Earlier rules would have required Uber drivers from non-English speaking countries to pass a written and spoken language test.
In August, Uber filed a lawsuit against TfL to block those regulations, claiming that the rules were discriminatory and that while drivers should be able to speak English, the exams were burdensome and unnecessary.
Uber continued to criticize the new rules on Tuesday, telling Bloomberg that passing the written exam has nothing to do with communicating with passengers or getting from one place to another safely.
“Thousands of drivers who’ve spent years providing a great service to Londoners will now have to fork out 200 pounds and pass a writing exam, try to find an old GCSE certificate or lose their license and their livelihood,” the company said in a statement.
by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist