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St. Louis Cabbies Attend Mandatory “Ambassador” Training

Brett Blume
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May 31, 2011-St. Louis cab drivers exhibit different levels of interest in the two-hour-long, mandatory session urging them to become better "ambassadors" for the city. They could lose their taxicab license if they don't complete the training. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

May 31, 2011-St. Louis cab drivers exhibit different levels of interest in the two-hour-long, mandatory session urging them to become better “ambassadors” for the city. They could lose their taxicab license if they don’t complete the training. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) -  Think of it as charm school for taxi drivers.

In an effort to forever banish the image of the surly, anti-social cab driver (think Robert DeNiro in “Taxi Driver”) the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission recently instituted mandatory training sessions for each of the 2,500 or so drivers plying city streets.

Cabbies who don’t complete the training risk losing their taxicab license.

“Taxicab drivers really are ambassadors for St. Louis,” said the CVC’s Lorraine Gustavis, who administers the training sessions.  “They’re the first face that people often see when they come to our region.  So we want to make sure that we’ve given them everything to be equipped to deliver exceptional service.”

Topics covered in the session include being courteous to the customers, keeping a clean cab and personal appearance, and being up-to-date on current shows and exhibits that they can recommend to visitors while they’re in town.

The well-intentioned program isn’t sitting well with some drivers, especially veterans like Patrick Quinn.

He has 22 years of experience beneath his lap-belt, and sees the sessions as a waste of his time — time he could be picking up more customers and making money.

“It’s just kind of a common-sense thing that you will be courteous to your customers,” Quinn told KMOX News.  “Obviously we depend on gratuities.  I mean if I don’t know my job by now, I shouldn’t even be out here driving.”

 

 

 

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