Tuesday, June 08, 2010

City Ponders English Test For Cabbies

Citing a recent finding that cab drivers were the No. 1 complaint of downtown visitors, Indianapolis is considering requiring cabbies take an English examination.
Code enforcement officials told TV station WRTV they consider being able to speak English a prerequisite to being a successful cab driver."It's essential to their duties as a driver that they be able to communicate, as a driver that they can comprehend and work with their fares to navigate the city," said Kate Johnson, a code enforcement spokeswoman.
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Some, however, said requiring an examination will discriminate against the drivers."Most of the cab drivers, they know how to speak English. They know how to communicate with their customers," said one cab driver.Driver Tilly Legan said some drivers clearly have a communication problem"I think it's a good idea. That way, there are no misunderstandings on locations and destinations," Legan said. "The language barrier is a big problem because they don't know exactly where they're going to begin with."The city is working to devise a good test as they look to other cities for examples on how to proceed."The oral part is an essential part that we're looking at expanding upon, and we're looking at other options," Johnson said.Ken Falk, legal director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, said the city should get input from others."I have a problem with the city acting in an ad hoc manner. I'd like to see some proposed regulations and thought given into what the city does," Falk said. "I think I would be very cautious when you start saying, 'We're going to test for English proficiency,' because there are a lot of people who may have English proficiency for the ability to drive a taxi which may not satisfy other requirements."Code enforcement officials said the English exam would most likely be administered at the time the cab driver applies for a license.

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