Philadelphia Parking Authority Certifies Taxi and Limo Drivers


The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) is responsible for developing the city's supply of reasonably priced off-street parking, regulating the use of on-street parking and providing convenient parking facilities at Philadelphia International Airport. The PPA also licenses the thousands of taxi and limo drivers who work in the city.

Certifying Drivers

Drivers must prove their understanding of everything from customer relations and courtesy to rules of the road, safety procedures and their respective companies’ regulations. In order to be licensed, candidates must take a three-day training class followed by a certification test. They need to achieve a score of at least 80 percent on a PPA certification test covering six topic areas: courtesy, appearance, regulations, procedures, maintenance and distances.

Candidates may take the test three times in order to achieve the required score. If they don’t’ pass, they may take the test again after 90 days and, if they wish, prepare for it by retaking the course.

Presenting Real-World Situations

Given the need for drivers to respond quickly and safely to a variety of situations, they are often asked questions based on video scenarios. For example, one of these shows a minor fender bender and asks candidates about what actions to take should something like this occur. Still photos are used to present questions about proper work apparel and other subjects. Candidates might also view a picture of a city landmark and answer a question about what route to use to drive there. Incorrect answers prompt feedback explaining the right answer and directing the test taker to relevant learning materials.

Protecting Test Security and Integrity

In the days of paper-based certification tests, it was easy for people to pass along test questions and answers to their friends. The switch to online tests created and delivered using the Questionmark assessment management system has brought significant security improvements. These include being able to create individualized tests from large item banks.

“There’s a bank of questions that are randomly picked for use in the test so that no people sitting next to each will get the same set of questions,” explains PPA Systems Administrator Mike Gardner. “Since the test changes all the time, they can’t predict what will be on it.”

Gardner uses jump blocks to direct candidates through tests according to whether they answer particular questions correctly or incorrectly. For instance, candidates can be directed toward questions on subjects that are challenging and toward fewer on subjects they respond to correctly

Candidates take the test in PPA’s training facility under the supervision of a proctor. The Questionmark Secure browser, an optional add-on, prevents task switching.

Reporting Results

Supervisors review a customized Questionmark Coaching Report with test takers to review of all their responses, with a focus on incorrect and unanswered questions in an effort to help them improve performance the next time. The report provides enough information to be valuable to the candidate without compromising test content. Post-test reports have helped PPA identify weak points in candidates’ knowledge and improve their performance.

“Questionmark has definitely shown us the light about what people need to learn and where they need to improve,” Gardner observes. “We have been able to provide better tests and better drivers. The whole process has become so much better because we have insight on what we need to improve to help the drivers improve.”