Not so you’d notice if you’ve ridden in a New York City cab in the last twenty years, but one of the longstanding requirements for a hack license has been passing an English proficiency exam. Not any more. The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission has waived the requirement on the orders of Mayor Bill DeBlasio, who has argued that the proficiency test poses a “significant barrier” to non-speakers of English obtaining gainful employment.
According to the Daily Mail:
The new law was part of a broader legislative package that also included a bill to require the Taxi and Limousine Commission to directly administer a health care services program.
The city’s taxi drivers have been overwhelmingly foreign-born for decades.
According to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, just 4 percent of current drivers were born in the United States.
It’s not hard to envision the practical problems that will arise as a result of this change, especially for out-of-towners arriving at one of the three airports serving the city or other transportation depots. Even if the passenger and driver share a common language, city landmarks and streets do not, diminishing the chances of the passenger reaching his destination.
The Mail notes that the reaction on social media to the lifting of the language proficiency test has been pretty much what you’d expect:
@Reuters You mean there has been one all along?
— Zimmer Man (@Reveille1au) August 21, 2016