London cabbies not yet keen on satellite navigation

Satellite navigation systems may be the latest "must have" car gadgets, but London's cab drivers, who have to pass the world's toughest taxi exam, are not impressed, according to a Reuters report.


The report said while hundreds of thousands of the high-tech guidance systems were sold in Britain every year, most cabbies in London preferred to rely on their own brain power.


The increasingly sophisticated "satnav" devices were approved for use in London's distinctive black cabs for the first time earlier this year, the report said.


"I would say take-up has been about 4% or 5%, maybe higher for drivers doing the airport runs and those doing jobs in the London suburbs," Bob Oddy, general secretary of the London Taxi Drivers' Association, was quoted by Reuters as saying.


He said all London's 25,000 black cab drivers took pride in having passed a grueling exam called "The Knowledge" in order to win the coveted license that allowed them to ply their trade.


Would-be cabbies had to learn 320 standard routes and be familiar with the city's myriad streets, roads and avenues as well as countless shortcuts and public buildings, the report said.


"Regardless of the salesmen's hype about these machines, they cannot match the knowledge and experience of a good cabbie," Oddy said.