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New York City cabdrivers have long had to pass an 80-question test, but now geography accounts for only 10 of those questions. (Time)

Learn how the “Geospatial Revolution” is changing everyday jobs.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit, including today’s poll.

Yellow taxis are a part of the New York City landscape—here, in front of the main branch of the New York Library. Photograph by Stephen Wilkes, National Geographic

Yellow taxis are a part of the New York City landscape—here, in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library.
Photograph by Stephen Wilkes, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

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  • How has GPS impacted the test administered by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC)—the so-called “hack license”?
    • The TLC reasons that taxi drivers can use GPS devices in their cabs to navigate and no longer need to know the city’s geography themselves. So, the number of geography questions on the TLC test has dropped to 10.
    • In the words of one cab company owner: “With GPS, you don’t need to know where anything is anymore.”
    • It may slow traffic: According to the New York Times, “using a GPS device when a cab is not standing or parked is currently prohibited.” So, taxi drivers relying on GPS either have to park and enter their destination or risk a traffic ticket for operating GPS while driving.

 

  • What aspects of geography that may be valuable to a cabdriver and his or her passengers are not incorporated into GPS?
    • Traffic patterns are often not reflected in GPS devices. Exceptions to a city’s grid pattern or system of street rules (where you can make left-hand turns, for instance, or streets that are one-way during parts of the day) are also rarely incorporated into GPS data. The New York Times begins their analysis of issue like this: “The trip from Kennedy Airport to La Guardia is a straight shot on the Van Wyck Expressway, with a little jog on the Grand Central Parkway at the end. Canal Street may be the shortest route from the Holland Tunnel to the Manhattan Bridge, but traffic can make it feel like the longest. And all even-numbered, one-way streets in Manhattan run west-to-east, except for the handful that do not.”

 

  • How have services such as Uber and Lyft impacted the TLC test?
    • More consumers are relying on these services, in which commuters to submit a trip request through an app, which is routed to crowd-sourced drivers. Uber drivers do not have to pass the TLC test, which requires up to 80 hours of classes, or have a “hack license,” which costs more than $200 in total, to operate. The TLC reasons that making the test easier to pass will encourage more people to be licensed taxi drivers.

 

  • If New York City cabdrivers are not being tested on New York City geography, what do you think they’re being tested on?
    • Take a sample quiz and see for yourself!
    • The new tests give a greater emphasis to safety, English-language proficiency, basic map-reading, and the rules and regulations of operating a taxi in the city.

 

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

Time: Cab Drivers No Longer Required to Learn N.Y.C.’s Streets

Nat Geo: Geospatial Revolution: The location of anything is becoming everything

New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission: Take the NY Taxi Quiz

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