Norway scraps ‘knowledge’ test for Oslo taxi drivers

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.

Norway scraps 'knowledge' test for Oslo taxi drivers
Taxis operated by the 0-taxi company in Oslo. Photo: Deaurinko/Depositphotos

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.

READ ALSO: Man takes taxi from Copenhagen to Oslo, runs from fare


Paris drivers fined and banned after tourists charged €230 for airport taxi trip

Three Paris drivers have been fined and banned from driving after tourists were charged €230 for a taxi from Charles de Gaulle airport into the city, in a case brought by Paris taxi authorities to try and deter unlicensed drivers from performing this type of scam.

Paris drivers fined and banned after tourists charged €230 for airport taxi trip
Illustration photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP

Taxi fees from the airport into the city are capped at €53 for the Right Bank and €58 for the Left Bank, but tourists are frequently ripped off by unlicensed drivers who operate at airports and large train stations.

The latest case involved passengers who arrived from Hong Kong on January 1st and were charged €230 for the trip into the city centre.

This time the taxi drivers’ association L’association les Nouveaux Taxis Parisiens brought a civil action against the scammers, fed up with the overcharging which, they say, brings their profession into disrepute.

READ ALSO What you need to know about taking a taxi in Paris

Three men were brought before the court over the scam and produced a convoluted tale of extra charges for clearing up vomit from drunk passengers, which the Hong Kong tourists denied, while one man claimed he had only been at the airport to buy Nespresso capsules, to which the magistrate replied ‘Mmmmmm’, according to French newspaper Le Parisien

The driver was fined €200 for overcharging and banned from driving for a year, while his accomplice was banned from driving for six months. Both were ordered to pay €1,000 in damages. A third man, who was not present but whose legitimate taxi license the unlicensed driver was using, was given a €1,000 suspended fine and ordered to pay €1,000 in damages for complicity in the illegal practice of the profession.

Jean Barriera, leader of the taxi drivers’ association, said afterwards that he did not think the sentences were severe enough, adding that he had brought the case: “To defend the image of cabs. It’s the whole profession that these individuals sully.”

Paris, Nice, Cannes, Antibes, Toulouse and several other French cities have fixed rates for taxis, you can find the full list here

However these only apply to official taxis. If you are using a VTC service like Uber the price will vary depending on availability, although it will be fixed before you get into the car.

Unlicensed drivers are common at airports and stations including Gare du Nord. French taxi drivers are not allowed to solicit for fares, so if someone approaches you and offers you a taxi they are probably unlicensed – instead go to the taxi rank to find an official vehicle.

Click here for the full list of rates and what you need to know about taking a taxi in France.