Anyone wishing to obtain a PCO “London Private Hire Drivers Licence” will need to undergo a Topographical Assessment before your licence can be granted. There are many testing centres and you can find a list of accredited topographical testing centres further down this page. A typical assessment will take between 45 minutes and 90 minutes to complete and cost between £25-£50. During the assessment you will need to demonstrate your map reading ability such as:
- Map reading ability
- Route selection (local) – the ability to identify and plan a route within a local area of London. The applicant chooses the route
- Route selection (intermediate) – the ability to identify and plan routes beyond your local area but within London
- Route selection (long distance) – the ability to identify and plan routes to somewhere outside London
- General topography – awareness of general geography of London. This includes major roads and locations beyond the Capital – for example, airports and other cities
What You Need To Know To Pass The Test
For the the complete topographical skills specification list click here or read the points below for a general idea of what is required.
General Topographical Skills
- You need to be able to read and understand basic written English – instructions for one task will be provided in writing only to test this.
- You need to be able to look-up and locate streets, stations, and hospitals within the Greater London A-Z Map Book.
- You need to be able to identify stations, post towns, districts, hospitals, stations, and postal districts from a map book.
- You need to know the 4 primary compass points – N,S,E, & W.
- You need to know the names of the counties bordering London – e.g. Kent, Essex, Hertfordshire, Berkshire, Surrey etc.
- You need to know the motorways that radiate from the M25 – e.g. M20, M1, M11, M4 etc.
- You need to be able to specify the direction from London of a major town – for example you may be asked which direction from London is Brighton? You will need to answer South in this example.
- You need to know which motorway you would use to reach a major town – for example you may be asked which motorway to reach Brighton? You will need to answer M23 in this example.
Route Planning Tasks:
- You need to be able to plan a local route between two points in the Greater London A-Z Map.
- You need to be able to plan a route between 5 and 30 miles between two points in the Greater London A-Z Map.
- You need to be able to plan a route that is over 30 miles from Central London, using the Greater London A-Z Map, A UK Street Map, and a local map of the destination area (all maps will be provided) using a motorway where appropriate.
- You need to be able to plan a route that is over 30 miles from Central London, using the Greater London A-Z Map, A UK Street Map, and a local map of the destination area (all maps will be provided) avoiding all motorways.
After the Test
If you have met the required standard you will be issued with a pass certificate. If you have not met the required standard you will be given a ‘fail sheet’ which will give details of the areas where you have not met the required standard. Re-assessment is an option in case you fail to achieve the required standard.
Evidence of topographical skills is not needed if you:
- Were previously licensed as a London private hire vehicle driver and had passed a TPH Skills Assessment
- Are a licensed All London or Suburban London taxi driver
- Are a professional London tourist guide (eg Blue Badge Driver Guide)
- Can provide evidence of a relevant vocational qualification in passenger transport (eg NVQ or equivalent)
Accredited Topographical Training Centres
Below is a list of training centres officially accredited by Transport for London so you can be sure you are getting the best service: