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English No Longer Required for New York City Cab Drivers

  • VOA News

FILE - A woman exits a taxi on Third Avenue in heavy traffic caused in New York, Sept. 24, 2013.

FILE - A woman exits a taxi on Third Avenue in heavy traffic caused in New York, Sept. 24, 2013.

Taxi drivers in New York City, a largely immigrant community, are no longer required to know English.

A bill approved by the City Council in April, which went into effect Friday, allows taxi license tests to be administered in foreign languages.

New York City's taxi industry has been dominated by foreign-born drivers for decades - only 4 percent of current New York cab drivers were born in the U.S., according to the Taxi and Limousine Commission.

Some New York residents are concerned that the new law would make communication between the driver and the customer even more difficult, unsure how they would instruct a driver which route to take or inquire about precisely where they are headed.

But increased use of GPS and navigation apps has been found to decrease the amount of necessary communication between drivers and their riders.

Sponsors of the bill in the City Council argued that the law will allow for more immigrants in need of work to sustain themselves, and many New Yorkers feel that as long as their driver can get them to their destination safely, conversation is not needed.

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