Norway scraps ‘knowledge’ test for Oslo taxi drivers

Norway scraps 'knowledge' test for Oslo taxi drivers
Taxis operated by the 0-taxi company in Oslo. Photo: Deaurinko/Depositphotos
Taxi drivers in Oslo have for decades been required to pass a test demonstrating their near-encyclopaedic knowledge of the city’s streets and routes. But the test was recently scrapped overnight.

The taxi drivers’ test, kjentmannsprøve in Norwegian, is comparable the Knowledge test taken by London cab drivers.

But Oslo Police District last week informed taxi companies in the Norwegian capital that the test would no longer be a requirement for taxi drivers in Oslo and Akershus, Aftenposten reports.

As such, good conduct and requisite health are now enough to be granted a taxi drivers’ permit by Oslo Police, the newspaper writes.

That applies to Norwegian driving licence holders as well as drivers from all EEA countries, meaning that newcomers to Norwegian roads can theoretically drive Oslo taxis from day one in the country, provided they fulfil other working requirements.

Individual taxi companies must now decide their own policies on whether they will test their drivers’ knowledge of local roads.

A total of 13 different taxi companies operate in Oslo and Akershus.

“This came as a surprise to us,” Jarle Kanaris, owner of the Bytaxi company, told Aftenposten.

“In its eagerness to dismantle the taxi industry, the government majority in parliament decided this spring to scrap the (knowledge) test, but we had expected this change to occur only on July 1st of next year, when the changes to the Professional Transport Act [yrkestransportloven, ed.] take effect,” Kanaris added.

“It’s very negative for customers that you could get drivers without the necessary competencies. Satellite navigation does not solve this problem. Now anyone, without any kind of competency, can apply to police for a permit,” he said.

The taxi company owner also said that his company would introduce its own road knowledge test for employees.

Oslo Police District head of office Marius Gaarde said that the decision to bring forward the removal of the test was related to the contractor that ran the taxi driver exams.

“In Oslo and Akershus there was a neutral entity, Taxiskolen, which organized the (knowledge) test. That company went bankrupt in September. There is now no approved test centre. We were contacted by several people who wanted to know where to take the test, so we made an assessment and took the decision to remove the requirement,” Gaarde said to Aftenposten.

“The ministry argues in the new law proposal that technological advancements with satellite navigation make the drivers’ test less important,” he added.

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