London insists on English requirement for private hire drivers
London's transport bosses said on Monday that all drivers of private hire vehicles must speak, listen to, read and write English to a set level, intensifying a battle with Uber, which says the expected standard is too high.
Earlier this year, the capital's transport authority said it would introduce the measure as part of a series of stricter rules on apps such as Uber while supporting the city's iconic black cabs.
Black cabs drivers brought traffic to a standstill on Monday in protest over claims Uber and other similar operators were destroying the taxi industry.
The move in to bring in an English language requirement prompted San Francisco-based Uber, which allows users to book journeys on their smartphone, to take legal action arguing that the written component was too demanding.
But regulator Transport for London (TfL) said drivers would have to take either an English proficiency test or provide proof, such as a British school qualification, that they can meet the required level.
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A hearing in the case brought by Uber, whose investors include Goldman Sachs and Alphabet Inc unit GV, formerly known as Google Ventures, is due in December. A spokesman said on Monday:
"We've always supported spoken English skills, but passing a written English exam has nothing to do with communicating with passengers or getting them safely from A to B... Transport for London should think again and scrap these unnecessary new rules."