back to article Uber loses court fight over London drivers' English language tests

Taxi app Uber has lost its legal challenge to Transport for London’s requirement that its drivers must pass English language tests, according to reports. The Financial Times, whose reporter was at the Administrative Court for the oral judgement delivered by Mr Justice John Mitting this morning, reported that drivers “must do …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    English is the language of the UK, I'm with TFL on this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well, technically English is one of the languages of the UK.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        "Well, technically English is one of the languages of the UK

        Well, if we're being really technical, I believe that the only UK language officially recognised in legislation is actually Welsh! Everything else just assumes English

        1. gerdesj Silver badge

          "I believe that the only UK language officially recognised in legislation is actually Welsh"

          You haven't noticed BBC Alba then?

          1. TeeCee Gold badge
            Meh

            You haven't noticed BBC Alba then?

            Well to be fair, looking at their viewing figures, neither has anyone else.

          2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            @gerdesj

            You haven't noticed BBC Alba then?

            One of my favourite channels actually.

            I think the difference is that Welsh is an official language, meaning that certain things MUST be available in Welsh, whereas that isn't yet the status with Gaelic.

            1. H in The Hague

              "One of my favourite channels actually."

              Me too. After a busy week dealing with stuff I can and have to understand, it's v relaxing to watch a channel in a language I only understand a few words of. Farpaisean Chon-Chaorach (sheepdog trials) and DIY le Donnie (DIY programme presented by a guy with an old-fashioned and non-BBC approach to health and safety) are my favourites.

            2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
              Happy

              @Pen-y-gors

              Actually head up to Scotland. I think there is...

              And yes, I used to watch BBC Alba. I thought it would help me to understand Wegie.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              > One of my favourite channels actually.

              Just curious. How intercomprehensible are written and spoken Welsh and Scottish Gaelic? (I speak neither, sadly)

          3. CraPo

            feasgar math

          4. SundogUK

            "You haven't noticed BBC Alba then?"

            Please re-read for comprehension:

            "officially recognized in legislation"

          5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            You haven't noticed BBC Alba then?

            The key here is "officially recognised".

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          only UK language officially recognised in legislation is actually Welsh!

          Correct, English is only a "de facto" language for the UK.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm curious to know how many British passport holders would actually pass the £180-a-go English tests. On a related note, how many people with UK driving licences issued more than 10 years ago would actually pass the current UK driving test?

      1. graeme leggett

        "how many British passport holders would actually pass the £180-a-go English tests"

        All the ones who have a GCSE, or equivalent, don't have to.

        (added)

        The CEFRL that TfL references requires

        Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.

        Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.

        Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.

        Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

        1. Warm Braw Silver badge

          "dreams, hopes and ambitions"

          I imagine Uber's drivers are likely to have put those on hold...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "dreams, hopes and ambitions"

            Odd. My dream and hope is to have a taxi driver that doesn't speak any English. Particularly one who can't tell me what he read about in the Daily Mail that morning.

            1. quxinot Silver badge

              Re: "dreams, hopes and ambitions"

              >Odd. My dream and hope is to have a taxi driver that

              Why not dream of owning a car and a liscence? Or dream and hope for a car, and a motorcycle for nice days also?

              (This brings along subsegment dreams and hopes which include: the traffic will let up, and that the parking space will be open. Fair points.)

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        "I'm curious to know how many British passport holders would actually pass the £180-a-go English tests"

        Wrong way to look at it.

        There are plenty of people born, bred and educated in the UK who have the reading level of a 7 year old. Yet there are those who come from outside of the UK, Europe, Africa, wherever, and they have a better comprehension of the English language than most natives do.

        1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

          Yet there are those who come from outside of the UK, Europe, Africa, wherever, and they have a better comprehension of the English language than most natives do.

          And I doubt any of these will have problems passing this test. Unlike me if I needed to become an Uber driver here and had to take a Portuguese test. Which, I have to add, would be perfectly right and proper, as far as I'm concerned. (The fact that I don't have a driving licence might prove a bigger stumbling block, but that's beside the point...)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > The fact that I don't have a driving licence might prove a bigger stumbling block

            With Uber? I wouldn't bet on it :-)

      3. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

        I imagine almost all people with GCSE certs would pass that. I had to take a similar English test (because everyone has to be treated equally, PC garbage) and it was pants on head easy for anyone who speaks English as a first language.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

          "When travelling I at least try and learn, hello, thank you etc in a country I am going to be in."

          First thing I try to learn to say in another country..."How do you say <points at object> in <language>?" - very useful :D

          1. Captain DaFt

            Adding the phrases; "Pardon me", "Where is >street address<", and "I'd like to order a beer", to those above usually takes care of most of my needs abroad. ☺

            1. eldakka Silver badge

              And maybe add "do you wanna fuck?" to the list of must haves ;)

              1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                And maybe add "do you wanna fuck?" to the list of must haves ;)

                If you can't get that across without words you've probably blown your chances anyway :)

      4. Jack_Rainbow

        Forget British Passport Holders. They may be, after all, Arab or Swahili recently arrived in UK. I'm not curious about how many of my ethnically English 20 or so close neighbours would pass this English test, because I can tell you it would be about three. Most of them have no idea where Europe is and appear unable to read a newspaper.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > and appear unable to read a newspaper.

          The lucky bastards!!!

    3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
      Flame

      And conversely, when Brits go abroad, they should learn the language of the land, rather than assume the world speaks English. Living in a British/English enclave is not the way to integrate.

      1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

        Yes: Brits abroad can't just keep talking louder

        Or live in walled gardens. Or rather, they can, but they are then an insult and a problem.

      2. Triggerfish

        Brits abroad

        To be fair all the ones I know have, most of them don't live in enclaves either. I have met a few people abroad (not neccessarily Brits) who think they shouldn't need to or just don't for some other reason. But seems a bit stupid to me.

        When travelling I at least try and learn, hello, thank you etc in a country I am going to be in.

      3. IsJustabloke
        Stop

        RE : "Living in a British/English enclave is not the way to integrate."

        while I don't disagree with your post in anyway I'll simply ask.... is it acceptable if you're Asian/ Chinese/ Polish/ whatever?

        all major cities in the uk have enclaves of various nationalities, living together, speaking their own language, buying stuff in shops owned and run by people of the same nationality, selling stuff they've imported from the country they've all left to live here. Integration? yeah we've heard of it.

        I see no problem whatsoever in requiring people who interact with the general public being required to speak the main language of the country they live and work in.

        Please do come and live in my country, you're very welcome. All I ask is Live by the same rules I do, speak the same language I do. I've lived and worked in Italy, guess what language I spoke. It's simple courtesy.

        And while we're on the subject, they're not ex-pats they're immigrants!

        er.. sorry bit of a rant there :)

        1. Zippy's Sausage Factory

          Re: RE : "Living in a British/English enclave is not the way to integrate."

          "And while we're on the subject, they're not ex-pats they're immigrants!"

          The OED says an ex pat is "a person living permanently abroad", whereas immigrate is "to come into a foreign country to live there permanently". So Gary "Fingers" Bankjob* living on the Costa del Sol is an immigrant into Spain, an expat from the UK, and somewhere on Scotland Yard's "most wanted" list.

          * The names have been changed to protect the guilty. I ain't no grass.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: RE : "Living in a British/English enclave is not the way to integrate."

            > The OED says

            I believe the other gentleman refers to the habit of calling, for instance, a British person working in India an "expat" (short for expatriate), while an Indian person working in Britain would be referred to as an "immigrant". The former has neutral to positive connotations, where the latter is seen as neutral to negative.

        2. Triggerfish

          Re: RE : "Living in a British/English enclave is not the way to integrate."

          I can sometimes get why people want to live in enclaves, living in a foreign country as much as you can enjoy it and such can sometimes be stressful, especially if the place feels very foreign culturally (I'm thining Asia and such rather than Europe). I can get why some people want an area where going out and doing simple things like shopping can be preferable if it is eaiser and a lot of enclave areas tend to facilitate towards that, your more likely to find a Boots or Marks and Spencers* in those areas, a better grasp of English etc and sometimes you really need something easy like that.

          Don't get me wrong sometimes you want the adventure but sometimes it can be knackering and stressful. I've visited friends in Thai suburbs and popped out to get lunch and it's become a mission especially as my grasp of the language is limited. Go out country where it's less cosmopoiltan, on a bad day everything feels like more work.

          Sometimes you need to re-immerse in your own culture a bit for sanity or comfort, same way you can be surrounded by exotic dishes but sometimes just crave some comfort food in the form of a pie.

          *A girl I know used to try and buy underwear in Thailand, size 12 UK, very sporty trim figure, she would walk into Thai shops and they would laugh and say "No your too fat".

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE : "Living in a British/English enclave is not the way to integrate."

          > Integration? yeah we've heard of it.

          Careful with that. "Integration" as understood in most of Europe involves, implicitly or explicitly, renouncing one's identity to a large degree, and the expectation that one will adopt traits, customs, and habits with which one cannot meaningfully identify.

          > Please do come and live in my country, you're very welcome.

          Keep in mind, the moment someone unpacks his suitcase, it is now "his" country as much as it is "yours", and whether you like it or not, they had the freedom to choose and you (if a native) didn't, so...

          > All I ask is Live by the same rules I do,

          ...those are rules which will be agreed upon by all together, and revise and adapt as the host society evolves. An obvious example are the British Isles, where a Germanic language is predominant, the cuisine (the edible parts of it anyway) comes from the colonies, and entertainment from the US.

          > speak the same language I do.

          Why? A language is part of one's identity, and it is important that people are able to express that. Of course, in some cases language also serves a communication purpose (it is not its main purpose, certain renowned linguists argue), and then it is of course highly desirable that we be able to exchange information effectively. Even that may and is often achieved, sometimes even more effectively, without the interlocutors using a common language.

          > I've lived and worked in Italy, guess what language I spoke. It's simple courtesy.

          Friulan? Ligurian? Ladino? German? Piemontese? Sardinian? Albanian? Catalan? French? Greek? Slovene? Tuscan? Venetian?

          All those are languages of Italy, meaning they are spoken natively by communities with a historical presence in the country--in every case, since well before the Italian language was codified in the first place. Speaking Italian (more or less an artificial language, as I just mentioned) is not courtesy, it is a fallback for when the information exchange function of language overrides the identity expression function, or as part of a negotiation process with an unknown interlocutor. It is quite fascinating, in parts of Italy, to see natives conducting a conversation in two or three languages, none of which standard Italian.

          The concept of a nation-state as the normal form of a state is quite novel, having its genesis in a process that in Europe started towards the middle of the 19th century and culminated with the Second World War.

      4. octomancer

        WAT? A tourist and a taxi driver don't need the same linguistic skills.

      5. Doc Ock

        >And conversely, when Brits go abroad, they should learn the language of the land, rather than assume the world speaks English. Living in a British/English enclave is not the way to integrate.

        I agree with you that people should make an effort to at least learn some of the language however it just so happens that English is the de facto international business language and the world's most widely spoken language. If you are an international business traveller it's not going to be practical to learn every single language on Earth, Esperanto was a valiant effort to please every country politically but never took off. Good luck trying to simultaneously learn Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, German, French, Spanish and Japanese; only a few thousand more to learn after those.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "If you are an international business traveller it's not going to be practical to learn every single language on Earth,"

          You raise a valid point. Just not for this article. The article is about long term residents seeking employment on a specific country in an area where communication i the native language is a significant requirement. I very much doubt these Uber drivers are planning on visiting and working in multiple countries.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > however it just so happens that English is the de facto international business language and the world's most widely spoken language.

          Purely on the basis of experience, I must disagree with you there. As someone who does business internationally, I use four to five languages in the course of my professional day-to-day, plus one or two other languages socially.

          If you are a monolingual English speaker, you will be at a terrible disadvantage against most of the world, and in particular against every recent graduate of a European university, who will have studied a minimum of two foreign languages, plus whatever their local language(s), plus whatever their own / family / social language(s) may be.

          You may find it idiotic having to learn, let's say Norwegian, to do business there, but when your Norwegian speaking Belgian competitor¹ gets that multi-million dollar contract after taking the local client out for beers and a social chat in *their* language, let's see how much of a consolation is going to be the argument that "English is the language of business".

          ¹ True story, more or less.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tá sé seo disgusting - Ba chóir an fáth go bhfuil mé ag foghlaim english a thiomáint ar fud do chathair? Labhairt liom esperanto nós dúchais, shirley go bhfuil go leor?

      1. Paul

        I tried to decode that rot13 but it didn't work, not sure if I am using the wrong font?

    5. TheVogon Silver badge

      "English is the language of the UK, I'm with TFL on this."

      It's the global language of business and politics too. Someone needs to let the French know though:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hawRbECNX8o

  2. Fizzle
    Holmes

    And other English-speakers too

    Quite right too!

    Mind you, whilst in New York recently, I thought the cabbies there should also learn to speak English!

    Yes I'm sorry American readers, but they can be somewhat incomprehensible sometimes!

    1. Josh 14

      Re: And other English-speakers too

      That's just because you made mistake to go to New York city... Most Americans can't understand them either!

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

      Re: And other English-speakers too

      Touche!

      Yes, we should have an English language requirement too.

      Lucky for me, its easy to tell them how to get from LGA to Mid Town.

      If I had to tell them to get to Yonkers ... I'll be SoL.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Yes, oh Yes

    Can we have a follow-up UK wide please.

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Are Uber going to appeal against not having a London call center or are they just going to be picky?

    1. Phil W

      Honestly I don't see the call center thing as huge problem, given that their call center is currently in Ireland rather than somewhere in India.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Depends if the call center means they are selling services as well as delivering them in the UK.

        Tax, what tax, we don't sell anything in the UK guv.

  5. Whitter
    Meh

    "Uber has said it will appeal against the judgement"

    Have they said what grounds they will appeal on?

    When a company's (or indeed, person's) immediate reaction to a verdict they don't like is "appeal", it always sounds to be a combination of financial bullying with contempt of court.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: "Uber has said it will appeal against the judgement"

      Yes, the ground was "we need out workers pool to be among those most desperate to find a job and work for nuts. Those who can't speak the language of the country they moved in are the best ones".

      And while right now a judge can't rule against a call centre in the EU, just wait for the Brexit to happen....

  6. Craig 2 Silver badge

    Fluent in English?

    They should look at NHS Doctors before picking on taxi drivers!

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Fluent in English?

      It is true that at least one person died because the doctor treating him couldn't speak English.

      Less seriously, a European lorry driver got stuck on narrow lane this week and claimed that he couldn't understand the signs warning HGVs not to attempt it.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Fluent in English?

        he couldn't understand the signs warning HGVs not to attempt it.

        The supposedly EU standard signs with no text on them? Pity the EU can't do something useful like standardizing the actual level of a driving test across the union. That, of course, would be politically impossible and the comissioners know it. It's much easier to justify their self-importance by standardizing stuff like the size of a bar of chocolate, that makes so much more difference to our daily lives. Useless bunch of wankers, the lot of them.

        1. David Webb

          Re: Fluent in English?

          Pity the EU can't do something useful like standardizing the actual level of a driving test across the union

          As a motorbikerist, I can tell you that the EU has a standard test for motorbikerists, in fact it is so standard it is stupid. Mod 1 of the test you take off road and have to travel at a minimum speed of 31mph, not 30mph, 31. This brings it in line with the rest of the EU who use KPH so the minimum speed is actually 50kph which we can't do so we do 31mph.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: Fluent in English?

            "off road and have to travel at a minimum speed of 31mph,"

            What? Are you provided with an off-road bike then, because most road bikes would be bloody dangerous at anything more than 5mph off road :)

            1. David 132 Silver badge

              Re: Fluent in English?

              What? Are you provided with an off-road bike then, because most road bikes would be bloody dangerous at anything more than 5mph off road

              From context (albeit with no actual knowledge of the regs) I assumed it meant "off [the public] road", i.e. pootling round the test-centre carpark. Forcing neophyte bikers to take a Goldwing up Mount Snowdon would be considerably more entertaining tho :)

              1. Public Citizen
                Mushroom

                Re: Fluent in English?

                But not for the Goldwing.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Fluent in English?

              "What? Are you provided with an off-road bike then, because most road bikes would be bloody dangerous at anything more than 5mph off road :)"

              Bikes have obviously gone downhill then, because the Triumph Sports Cub I learned on and the T100 I subsequently rode were road bikes that could easily manage dirt roads and fields at well in excess of 50kph. Even my Velo Viper was reasonable on occasional dirt with "universal" tyres.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Fluent in English?

            "As a motorbikerist"

            Considering the current subject line, I just have to ask. Is "motorbikerist" a real word?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Fluent in English?

        "European lorry driver got stuck on narrow lane this week and claimed that he couldn't understand the signs warning HGVs not to attempt it."

        Satnav said yes so obviously the signs were wrong. I don't think European lorry drivers have a monopoly of this.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Fluent in English?

          "Satnav said yes so obviously the signs were wrong. I don't think European lorry drivers have a monopoly of this."

          Must have been using Tele-Atlas

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Fluent in English?

            "Satnav said yes so obviously the signs were wrong. I don't think European lorry drivers have a monopoly of this."

            No they don't have a monopoly on doing it, but that's not the point. The point is that they do have a monopoly on using the language as an excuse.

      3. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Fluent in English?

        The stuck lory routine is more likely due to the driver using an el-cheapo car sat-nav rather than a HGV sat-nav that will avoid the narrow lanes.

        But then, who does read the big sign saying "No HGVs beyond this point" in petworth town center?

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Fluent in English?

          The problem lies in that they put the "No HGVs beyond this point" sign in a location past where an HGV can take an alternate route or turn around.

  7. hatti

    Further

    As The Register reported earlier this week, Uber’s lawyer Thomas de la Mare argued that about a third of the app’s 110,000 drivers would fail the £180-a-go English tests because it would be too difficult for them.

    I assume a driving test would also be failed then.

    1. Oh Matron!

      Re: Further

      As well as the ability to navigate. I've never met a single Uber driver who could navigate to the end of the road that they are on.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Further

        Well, be fair. That applies to ordinary Parisian taxi drivers as well.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Further

      As The Register reported earlier this week, Uber’s lawyer Thomas de la Mare argued that about a third of the app’s 110,000 drivers would fail the £180-a-go English tests because it would be too difficult for them.

      Sounds to me like he's claiming foreign non-english drivers are incapable of learning a new language and hence is discriminating against them based on a perceived racial stereotyping of intelligence levels. Not really the sharpest of defence lines.

  8. katrinab Silver badge

    Correction:

    The requirement isn't a GCSE in English, it is a GCSE or equivalent in a subject that was examined in English, so if you have a GCSE in Chemistry, then that is fine.

    The exam you have to sit if you don't meet that requirement is much easier than a GCSE. You have to write a 130 word essay. I can't remember how long my GCSE essays were, but certainly a lot more than that.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Correction:

      The way the text was written is ambiguous. It should have been written "A GCSE or equivalent qualification tested/examined/given in English" or something along those lines.

      If you think the UK has language issues, come to the US where The Man® panders to every alphabet and language on the planet. People like me are oh soo insensitive for suggesting that English should be made the official language. I cringe when I see voter pamphlets in Spanish, Vietnamese and Russian. What's next? Hieroglyphs?

      1. MD Rackham

        Re: Correction:

        I don't understand what makes you "cringe."

        Is it your own ignorance at not being able to read those languages? Is it the thought of "those people" being able to vote? Is it the color of their skin? Is it typical American white male insecurity? Is it shame at the size of your "hands?"

        1. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

          Re: Correction:

          Some people are just naturally cringey, like my pet cat.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Correction:

          Maybe it's the expense of producing pamphlets in languages other than the official one for people who have reached a level where they are allowed to vote without being able to speak or understand said official language and therefore the issues they are voting on, ie citizens of the country.

  9. ratfox Silver badge

    To be fair, Uber drivers do require English knowledge less often than normal Taxicabs, since the app is telling them where to go. Technically, they only need for a normal ride to confirm the name of the passenger. And maybe inform the passenger they've arrived.

    Of course, there's still plenty of potential situations where they would need to communicate with the customer, so I can't sat I disagree. Also, fuck Uber.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "To be fair, Uber drivers do require English knowledge less often than normal Taxicabs, since the app is telling them where to go."

      Except, of course, all those temporary roadworks signs advising in advance of road works or telling you which way to go to divert around them in English words rather than possibly ambiguous "icons", especially in London which is the area the case is about. That can be difficult enough for a normal driver if they are not familiar with the area and the relevant street names.

  10. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    Mini-cab driver with 1% English

    In the days when mini-cabs were the wild west, I had a driver who relied on early Tom Tom and went completely wrong. I was trying to get to an important appointment and knew the best way to get there, but although he was a nice guy and trying to get me there, I couldn't make myself understood, until I started drawing little maps and passing them forward.

  11. pstiles

    Talking of Language

    If I recall correctly the noun "Uber" in Latin means "Udder". Fill in your own joke.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Talking of Language

      Über is a German word as in Über über alles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Talking of Language

        Über is a German word

        Shouldn't cause any problems since the company's business model is banned there, isn't it?

        In my experience of German taxis, Uber was a solution searching for a problem that didn't exist.

        Here in my provincial UK location, the taxi drivers already speak little or no English, don't know the rules of the road, and don't own their vehicles as they operate a car pool where four or more driver use a raddled, dirtty, unroadworthy old shitheap on a near continuous shift basis, so there's certainly a problem waiting for a solution, but Uber seems to be a wrapper with exactly the same contents.

        A bit like "Just Eat", which seem to be a wrapper for the very worst food outlets that you'd never voluntarily set foot in..

        1. Jonathan 27 Bronze badge

          Re: Talking of Language

          Uber is now recognized as an English word, driving from the German über. So anyone who posted about Latin can just take a hike with your false cognates.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Talking of Language

            "driving from the German über."

            Where's that then?

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Talking of Language

          "A bit like "Just Eat", which seem to be a wrapper for the very worst food outlets that you'd never voluntarily set foot in.."

          Oh, I'd not go that far WRT to JustEat. They've become so ubiquitous that many people don't even bother to find the good local takeaways any more so the good ones have to be part of the network too or they lose too much business. My local Chinese and pizza places are part of it now, but don't like it. They have to charge the same prices as for walk-ins but pay a commission to JustEat. They don't get much extra business but do lose out on some profit. Yet another "disruptive" industry that adds very little to life in general, just creams off "a little hear and there", hoping no one will notice the obscene profits they make for almost no work or added value.

      2. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Talking of Language

        "Über" is a German a word - with the umlaut. Without, it looks more the "uber, uberis" Latin word - which means "abundance", but also "breast" - which is probably the original meaning from which the idea of "abundance" is derived. But it looks the right meaning for the company, they want to suck money out of people....

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Talking of Language

          Without, it looks more the "uber, uberis" Latin word - which means "abundance", but also "breast"

          Well, there's good evidence that Travis Kalanick is a tit?

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Talking of Language

      "über" is just a Germanic word. Over in English and Dutch and över in Swedish and so on.

  12. Toltec

    Uber should turn this around

    When I first heard of this I thought Uber should turn this into a positive and allow passenger to request a driver that could speak their language. While English may be a requirement, being able to speak another language then becomes a positive for visitors and the service.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My one experience of Uber was not good

    Uber wanted a postcode for my destination. Ok, I said here it is.

    Where are you they said? I gave them the postcode

    I gave them the postcode but their outdated SatNav system (or wet strinng) didn't recognise it.

    Ok, so it was a new development but really? A black cab would have let me tell them a nearby landmark and worked from there.

    9 months later and we still can't get one to come to the development.

    The local Cabs and MiniCabs all know where we are. Guess who gets the business eh?

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: My one experience of Uber was not good

      Uber wanted a postcode for my destination. Ok, I said here it is.

      Where are you they said? I gave them the postcode

      Worrying, I wonder how many times a Uber taxi turns up to the location Google maps indicates for a given post code and can't find the prospective passenger because they are 400+ metres away and out-of-sight...

      Also for one particular client in France I have to tell the taxi drivers not to drop me at the location their system indicates, which is in the middle of some woods but 1.5km further up the road at the gatehouse of the chateau...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My one experience of Uber was not good

        The official address for our French office takes you to a bus stop from where you can't see the office, which is on the other side of a hedge. We often get phone calls from lost visitors.

  14. scrubber
    Joke

    English

    If it was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for Uber.

  15. scrubber

    "to be able to communicate in situations such as a medical emergency"

    I'm reminded of the black taxi driver delivering Renton to the hospital in Trainspotting.

  16. Mag07

    I'd be with TFL on this if our local minicab drivers could do more then 10 words in a comprehensible accent and I am not a native English speaker. But alas, they can't and TFL is not concerned. That says a lot for the GCSE or equivalent qualification. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      The rule hasn't been introduced yet, it will apply from September this year.

  17. Herby Silver badge

    Se Habla...

    Bullsh*t?

    I'm in California, and this happens quite frequently. Good thing I did take Español in high school, but that was a few (God I'm getting old) years ago. You should see the languages the driving test is given in here, it would surprise you. At least they don't give it in Klingon (yet).

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting the correlation between non-british taxi drivers and satnav users drawn by others. Maybe they've had the pleasure of being driven by one of those who mounts a 7" screen prat nav directly infront of the steering wheel on the windscreen and then proceeds to drive peering over or to the side of it occasionally, but mainly just follows whats on the screen. And for whom RED lights are something for other people... Still if its (insert deity) will infidels die, along with a true believer, thats just fine with them.

  19. Brian Allan 1

    No pass, no drive!!

    "As The Register reported earlier this week, Uber’s lawyer Thomas de la Mare argued that about a third of the app’s 110,000 drivers would fail the £180-a-go English tests because it would be too difficult for them."

    Pretty simple... No pass, no drive!!

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: No pass, no drive!!

      The practice exam paper is here - https://www.scribd.com/document/340828185/ISE-I-Sample-Paper-1-With-Notes#fullscreen&from_embed

      It is not a difficult exam to pass.

  20. Adam 52 Silver badge

    £180

    The price feels a bit steep. It's a 2 hour exam. If you've got ten candidates in a room then that's about £5 each for the invigilator and maybe another £2 for the marker. Add on a few quid for admin and it's still a lot less than £180.

  21. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Here in civilisation outside London Private Hire has been regulated for more than 40 years, and in my city the big taxi grouping have had online booking for more than ten years. Uber are late to the party, and trying to crash it by insisting they should be allowed to break the law.

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