The traditional British taxi

Merci !

Annales corrigées
Classe(s) : Tle ES - Tle L - Tle S | Thème(s) : Espaces et échanges
Type : Écrit LV2 | Année : 2018 | Académie : France métropolitaine

France métropolitaine • Juin 2018

Séries générales • LV2

The traditional British taxi

document 1 London’s cabbies say “The Knowledge” is better than Uber and a GPS

Getting into the back of a black taxi is the quintessential London experience. Name any spot in Britain’s capital and the driver knows exactly where to go and how to get there as fast as possible. This is “The Knowledge.” Every cabbie must master it, and it takes years to learn.

For 150 years, drivers have known all the city’s streets by memory and passed tests requiring years of study. Now it just takes Uber and a GPS to get around – and this has unleashed a major battle that pits a London tradition against a company challenging the taxi industry worldwide.

Brian Nayar, a Knowledge instructor, is worried. He says that Uber is hurting the industry he loves.

“There are companies, you mention Uber, where as far as I’m concerned, they’re circumventing the law,” he says. Taxi associations contend that Uber’s online car-booking app is the same as a meter and is cheating the system. If you drive a car with a meter in London, then you have to have passed The Knowledge exams and hold a special license.

As the battle continues, London taxi drivers say Uber is undermining an important British tradition dating back to 1865.

On average, it takes more than three years to learn The Knowledge. Aspiring taxi drivers start the journey at places like the West London Knowledge School, one of several teaching programs in the capital.

First, they flit around the city on mopeds1, learning the streets, and then spend months in rooms hunched over large, laminated maps. They draw routes with marker pens and then close their eyes and call out directions from the image in their mind. They’re build­ing a mental map that will help them pass stiff tests and get the coveted green badge to allow them to drive a metered black taxi.

For Nayar, it’s all part of a great British tradition that is more meaningful than simply relying on technology for navigation.

“I drive a London taxi, but I’m also an ambassador for this great city, and you can’t get that from a GPS,” he says.

Leila Fadel, “London’s cabbies say ‘The Knowledge’ is better than Uber and a GPS,” NPR, Markets section, October 21, 2015.

1. Mopeds: motorbikes.

document 2 From London to Sydney in a black cab

I decided to call Leigh.

“So… err… remember you said you want to go on an adventure? D’ya fancy driving a black cab to Australia when we graduate?”

“Yeah, alright.”


“Cool, see you in a bit.”

“See ya… oh Leigh, you said you can fix cars last night, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, no problem.”

He hung up. I had a teammate for this adventure – and one who would fix a car at that.

Or at least claimed he could.

I put my doubts about his engineering prowess aside – he had said yes in about one second flat, as though a mate calling you up after a night out and asking if you fancied driving to the other side of the world in an iconic form of London transport was a regular occurrence. […]

The planning process for an expedition of this importance and magnitude is highly complex, so a few days later we packed up a map and a laptop and headed to the pub, where Johno, ex-RAF1 -pilot-trainee-turned-student and never one to miss out on a pint or adventure, joined us to ‘consult’.

Now, here, you’ll see is where we made our first – and possibly gravest – error of the trip: never plan anything in a pub.

We agreed right away that a black cab would have to be the vehicle. There were no options other than possibly a yellow New York cab, and it was agreed that that was hardly very British. Next came the route. London to Sydney seemed as good as any; none of us had been to Australia and we fancied seeing some kangaroos. As we started looking at the map and sketching out a roughly direct route to Sydney, some bright spark pointed out that a true black cab driver would take the longest route possible to ‘rack up the meter’2.

Before long, a marker pen had carved a line across the map passing through Europe, Russia, Africa, the Middle East, India, China, South East Asia and Australia.

This idea was faultless, perfect and, most importantly hilarious.

Well, it was at the time at least.

Paul Archer & Johno Ellison, It’s on the Meter, 2016.

1. RAF: Royal Air Force.

2. ‘rack up the meter’: gonfler le prix de la course de taxi.

document 3 Taxi Balloons


ph © Rogue One, Taxi Balloons

Taxi Balloons by street artist Rogue One, Glasgow, 2013.

Note: The man on the left is part of the mural. He is signalling to the taxi.

compréhension 10 points

Document 1

1 The following statements are TRUE. Justify each of them with one quote.

1. London cab drivers are exceptionally competent.

2. The cabbies’ training is extremely long.

2 Choose the correct answer. The “Knowledge” is:

1. an app used by cab drivers.

2. a cab company in London.

3. a requirement to work as a cabbie.

3 Quote two elements from the text showing the steps that cab drivers take to build “a mental map” (l. 29) of the city.

4 What is Brian Nayar’s viewpoint on Uber? Justify your answer with two elements from the text.

Pour les candidat(e)s qui ne composent pas au titre de la LVA.

5 In your own words, explain why taking a black cab is a typically English experience. Justify with two elements from the text.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA.

6 Explain what Brian Nayar means when he says “you can’t get that from a GPS” (l. 33).

Document 2

7 1. Copy and fill in the grid about the narrator’s plans using elements from the text.

Point of departure


Point of arrival


Means of transportation


2. In your own words, explain what makes this plan “an adventure” (l. 2-3).

8 1. TRUE or FALSE? Justify each answer with a quote from the text.

a) Leigh takes time to answer the narrator’s offer.

b) The narrator does not completely trust Leigh.

2. What image of Leigh is conveyed through his answers?

9 1. Find information about the planning process.






People involved




2. The following statement is TRUE. Prove it with a quote from the text.

The narrator is not completely satisfied with the way the trip was planned.

10 Select one quote that justifies the characters’ choice of vehicle.

Pour les candidat(e)s qui ne composent pas au titre de la LVA.

11 TRUE or FALSE? Justify each answer with a quote from the text.

1. They have no real motivation in their choice of a specific route.

2. They end up selecting the shortest itinerary possible.

Uniquement pour les candidat(e)s de la série L-LVA.

12 1. How do the characters see cab drivers?

2. How does that influence their final choice of itinerary?

Document 3

13 Focus on the setting. What characterises the urban environment that the artist has chosen for his mural?

14 Focus on the cab. What is unusual about it?

15 What may have been the artistic intention in choosing this setting? Give two ideas.

Documents 1, 2 and 3

16 Compare and contrast the symbolic dimension of cabs in the three documents.

expression 10 points

Les candidat(e)s qui ne composent pas au titre de la LVA traiteront l’un des deux sujets suivants.

1 Paul Archer, the narrator in document 2, tells the story of his adventure in his travelling journal. Write a passage about a memorable day of this adventure. (250 words)

2 Comment on the following statement by Tim Cahill, an Australian sportsman. “A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.” (250 words)

Les candidat(e)s composant au titre de la LVA traiteront l’un des deux sujets suivants.

3 Paul Archer, the narrator in document 2, tells the story of his adventure in his travelling journal. Write a passage about a memorable day of this adventure. (300 words)

4 Discuss the following statement by Ray Bradbury, a very famous writer. “See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream.” (300 words)

Les clés du sujet

Document 1


Leila Fadel (1981-) est une journaliste américano-libanaise, correspondante de la National Public Radio, réseau de stations de radio privé et indépendant.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Les taxis londoniens appartiennent à une longue tradition britannique. Leurs chauffeurs, réputés pour leur connaissance de Londres acquise lors d’une longue formation, se sentent menacés par ceux d’Uber, sans formation ni permis spécifique et qui se contentent d’un GPS.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Cabbie (titre) : chauffeur de taxi ; to unleash (l. 8) : déchaîner ; to pit against (l. 8-9) ; opposer à ; to circumvent (l. 14) : contourner ; to cheat (l. 16) : ­tricher, tromper ; hunched (l. 26) : courbé ; coveted (l. 30) : convoité.

Document 2

Les auteurs

Paul Archer, Johno Ellison et Leigh Purnell, cité dans le texte, sont trois amis qui se sont connus étudiants et ont décidé d’effectuer le long périple décrit dans le livre, et qui a permis de collecter des fonds pour la Croix-Rouge britannique.

Pour en savoir plus :

Résumé du texte

Le passage raconte la genèse d’une expédition qui a mené trois amis de Londres à Sydney dans un taxi londonien qu’ils avaient acheté.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

D’ya fancy…? (l. 3) : ça t’dit de… ? ; to graduate (l. 3) : obtenir sa licence universitaire ; to fix (l. 7) : réparer ; to claim (l. 12) : prétendre ; an occurrence (l. 17) : un événement ; a bright spark (l. 31) : un petit fûté.

Document 3


Rogue One est un peintre muraliste qui exerce son art sur les murs de Glasgow, sa ville natale.

Pour en savoir plus :

La source

Cette peinture murale montre un taxi, porté par des ballons multicolores, hélé par un homme banalement vêtu, dans un quartier d’apparence sordide : murs sales, petite porte taguée, caméra de surveillance, tout incite à fuir.

Les points de convergence

Les trois documents ont pour point commun les traditionnels taxis britanniques. Dans le document 1, ils sont victimes de la concurrence d’Uber, dans le document 2, un taxi de ce genre est choisi précisément pour son aspect typique. Dans le document 3, le taxi est associé à l’idée du rêve et de l’évasion.

Le sujet d’expression 1 3

Une direction possible

Il s’agit d’un journal de voyage, écrit jour après jour. Donc l’événement mémorable que vous inventerez vient de ou est en train de se produire. Ce peut être une belle ou une mauvaise rencontre, un événement local auquel vous assistez, un problème de santé ou un incident mécanique…

Key ideas

A hard / happy day today. A good opportunity to exchange about our countries and cultures.

Le sujet d’expression 2

Une direction possible

Développez l’idée que vous pouvez parcourir des kilomètres pendant des heures, même en admirant de splendides paysages, sans que cela vous enrichisse réellement. Inutile d’avoir « fait » un pays si vous ne prenez pas le temps d’en rencontrer les habitants, de les connaître, d’en faire plus ou moins des amis. Ce qu’ils vous apprendront sur eux et sur vous vous enrichira.

Key ideas

There is no point in driving for miles if you don’t meet some people along the way. Meeting people and making friends is more rewarding than a simple road trip. You’ll learn about them but you’ll also learn about yourself. There is nothing better than human relationships and what others can bring you.

Le sujet d’expression 4

Une direction possible

Réfléchissez aux notions de « voir » et de « monde ». Il ne s’agit pas seulement de voyages et de pays lointains. « Le monde » est aussi une région de votre propre pays ou un lieu naturel que vous découvrirez. « Voir » le monde, de nos jours, peut aussi se faire par la lecture ou les média. Quant aux rêves, ils sont souvent nourris de que vous avez vécu, donc vu.

Key ideas

“Seeing the world” does not mean spending your life travelling. There are plenty of fantastic things to see in your own country. Just observe. Books or visual media also let you see the world. Your dreams come from what you have seen.