Some two dozen Tel Aviv taxi drivers enrolled in an English class last week in a bid to try to improve their service ahead of the expected influx of thousands of tourists for the Eurovision Song Contest.
The initiative was a joint effort by the Gett taxi company and the Berlitz language school, and was based upon the widespread understanding that the city’s cabbies don’t have a good reputation.
It comes with the city taking a variety of steps to improve services ahead of the May singing extravaganza that is expected to bring in 10,000 visitors.
During the half-day course, the drivers were given the vocabulary to make small talk and mostly how to respond politely to their customers, according to Channel 12 TV.
The drivers were also interested in learning some phrases they would find useful.
“How do you say ‘Where’s my tip?'” asked one driver.
They also addressed their reputation for overcharging foreigners, saying that while none of them did it personally, it was par for the course.
“I know some drivers who charge double because they are talking English,” said driver Oded Levi. “But what can you do? When we go to Europe they screw us too. I went to Slovakia and was charged 50 euros for a 3 minute ride.”
One driver, Shlomo Sitton, said it was important to give the visitors a good welcome to the country, but found it difficult with his basic English.
And the half day course wasn’t enough. “I just use Google translate, then I can talk in Hebrew and they can talk in English,” he said.