NYC Mayor Makes English Optional for Cab Drivers

taxi1Driving a New York City yellow cab has licensing requirements that rival some of the worst government bureaucracies.  One of the required test, however, added some value.  Because the taxi industry in NYC has been dominated by immigrant drivers since the early 90’s, the city began requiring an English proficiency test.

A new law supported by the ultra-liberal mayor, Bill de Blasio, has eliminated the language requirement.  As it stands, about 96% of NYC’s 144,000 taxi drivers are immigrants.

A new law that streamlines licensing requirements for different kind of drivers has done away with the longstanding English proficiency test for taxi drivers, which supporters say will eliminate a barrier to the profession for immigrants, who make up 96 percent of the 144,000 cabbies in the city.

Many critics are voicing their displeasure over the new law.  Concerns about a driver’s ability to read street signs or communicate with passengers top the list.

Some foreign-born taxi drivers said taking, and passing, the English test was once a successful rite of passage.

Back then, the city also required a geography test, which has also been dropped in recent years.

New York City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who sponsored the legislation, said the driving jobs are “a step into the middle class for many, and we should be removing barriers to entry, rather than keeping them in place.”

taxiIn certain ethnic neighborhoods in New York City, he pointed out, not speaking English isn’t a problem since the drivers and those using their services all speak the same language.

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