Half of Wolverhampton taxi drivers failing written tests
Half of taxi driver applicants in Wolverhampton are failing written tests, it has been revealed.
The city council's driver training programme has just a 50 per cent pass rate for its written assessment.
Bosses stress its tests for drivers are among the best and most stringent in the country. It follows criticism that it has become too easy for drivers to obtain a licence in Wolverhampton due to discounted rates.
A new report suggested that driver training programmes had become too complicated and that drivers were being overwhelmed by the number of questions. Council bosses say the near-50 per cent failure rate is 'very high'.
Budding drivers are tested on various regulations surrounding the job, including what passengers can and cannot do and where they need to display their badges. Those who fail are not granted a licence.
Drivers will now be trained on modern slavery, adding to the workload. But the authority insists the tough tests will provide 'better drivers'.
The city has been inundated with licence requests as costs are lower than in other parts of the region, a move which has attracted criticism from neighbouring authorities.
The report said: "Currently, the number of attendees failing the written assessment is nearly 50 per cent. This has previously been thought of as confirmation that the course and assessment is sufficiently robust.
"However, at the last review, it was discussed with the training provider whether the very high failure rate could be because more and more content has been added, meaning less time spent on each subject ensuring the student understood the lessons being taught.
"With the modern slavery content being added to the existing learning categories, it has been decided to extend the course to a full day. This will enable more time to be spend on each area of training and will produce better drivers who are better trained and more equipped to perform the role of private hire driver. The stringent testing and mandatory questions will remain, ensuring the calibre of driver is maintained."
Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chairman of the council's licensing committee, said: “The assessment and examination process is robust and of a very high quality. We believe it to be proportional to the job of a private hire driver and as a result there is a significant failure rate which highlights the fact it is difficult."
Opposition leader Councillor Wendy Thompson insisted it was important the tests were as stringent as possible but said it was concern that so many were failing written tests.
She said: "It's a responsible position and we know from other parts of the country that you have to be careful about who we licence as taxi drivers. I like to have confidence in the tests and if 50 per cent are failing it could be a sign the test is absolutely appropriate."