No English? No problem! New York City cab drivers won't have to learn the language to qualify for a license The average New York City taxi driver may still be sassy, but will not be required to speak English any longer. The change is the result of a new law that Mayor Bill DeBlasio signed in April and went into effect on Friday eliminating the English proficiency exam for taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers. It is the latest big change for cab drivers as policymakers and regulators try to adapt the city's requirements to demographic and technological changes. The legislation created a single license for all taxicab and for-hire vehicles and eliminated the English language proficiency test, according to a New York City Council website. http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/08/21/03/3773BD4A00000578-3751184-New_York_is_home_to_nearly_144_000_active_drivers_of_taxis_and_l-m-52_1471747633060.jpg +3 New York is home to nearly 144,000 active drivers of taxis and limousines, with over 90 percent of them born outside of the United States, according to official figures The Council described the requirement as 'a significant barrier to entry to driving a taxi' in a statement announcing the bill and other related legislation in January. New York is home to nearly 144,000 active drivers of medallion cabs, livery cars and other for-hire vehicles, according to a 2016 report from the Taxi and Limousine Commission. Over 90 percent of those drivers are born outside the United States. The Taxi and Limousine Commission is working with the Mayor's office on a potential education program that would include English language vocabulary for drivers, a spokeswoman for Commission said. The new law was part of a broader legislative package that also included a bill to require the Taxi and Limousine Commission to directly administer a health care services program. http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/08/21/03/3773BD8A00000578-3751184-image-a-37_1471746658625.jpg +3 City officials are reportedly working on a new instructional program that would teach drivers spoken English and basic vocabulary needed for everyday encounters with the public The New York Times reports that city officials sought parity with app-based ride services such as Uber, which don't require an English test. The city's taxi drivers have been overwhelmingly foreign-born for decades. According to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, just 4 percent of current drivers were born in the United States. http://i.***************/i/pix/2016/08/21/03/3773BD9A00000578-3751184-image-a-38_1471746668688.jpg +3 Twitter users reacted negatively to the new law going into effect on Friday The reaction on social media to the law appears to be largely negative. 'Just plain wrong,' says Twitter user Jan Johnson. W. Clayton tweeted that this was 'another reason to avoid' New York City. 'What's next? Restriction-free driver's licenses for blind folks?' tweeted another dissenter. 'If you're in New York, you must speak English,' David Hernandez, a 26-year-old cook from Queens told The New York Times. 'This is an English-speaking country.' The law's initial sponsor, however, says that the move is necessary given that ridesharing services like Uber do not require drivers to be proficient in English. '[Uber and Lyft] don't have any language requirement, and no one has complained that they can't communicate with them,' Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, a Democrat who represents northern Manhattan, told the Times.