JP cracks down on Uber drivers amid cabbie complaints

Jefferson Parish cracks down on Uber drivers who are ignoring the law

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish government is cracking down on Uber drivers ignoring the rules.

This after complaints from taxi drivers and even some Uber Black drivers, the higher end car service.

"We've taken the information that we've received, for those that we're able to discern that there was actually a trip, a pick up and a drop-off in Jefferson Parish there have been citations issued," said Parish Attorney Deborah Foshee.

Cabbies complained that Uber X drivers and even some Uber Black drivers are operating in areas outside of  the airport in violation of the rules.

Uber Black is supposed to pick up fares in the Transportation Center, but cabbies said they have been operating in the area where taxis are assigned to pick up passengers.

Foshee told FOX 8 News Tuesday that her office has been investigating the complaints and has issued three citations so far.

"And then those will be prosecuted, in addition there are six additional drivers for which we have personal information, we know that they were actually soliciting in Jefferson Parish, those have been turned over to the State Police," she said.

Foshee stated that the parish does not have total oversight in terms of Uber drivers, or cabbies.

"For instance, the Public Service Commission is responsible for regulating For Hire Plates and CDL Licenses, the State Police are the ones that actually enforce that, so we can't write it for not having a "CDL" License or for not having a "For Hire" plate," Foshee said.

"I'm so glad Jefferson Parish is finally trying to help legitimate drivers and I hope they will do the same at the airport," said Niran Gunsekara, V.P. of Local 234 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Union which represents taxi drivers in metro New Orleans.

The cab drivers' union wants more enforcement to keep Ubex X, and even Uber Black drivers from operating in areas of the airport they should not.

Gunasekera said he recently put Uber to the test by using a smartphone to request a ride from the airport and was picked up by an Uber-X driver.

He called on the airport to do more to catch such drivers as they pick up fares in the area wher taxis operate outside the lower terminal.

"To patrol downstairs where passenger pickups are because that's where I got into an Uber car and nobody questions anybody out there," he said.

Weeks ago the parish issued a cease and desist letter to Uber.

Current parish law requires CPNC's or licenses relating to "for hire" services.

"Recognize when you go back and look at our For Hire ordinance it was drafted in the sixties, so we're using a mid-century, 20th Century tool to address something that's 21st Century process…This is not an anti-Uber, pro-Uber, this is about following the rules.  We have a lot of people out there who actually do follow the rules," Foshee said.

And the cab drivers' union said it will keep the pressure on, not only Jefferson Parish Government, but New Orleans City Hall which initially approved Uber operating in the city.

"For this simple reason, when they passed the Uber X rules, they did not include the state law which requires them to have a For Hire passenger license plate, chauffeur's license," said Gunsekera.

"The message to Uber is come back, work with us, follow the rules, if we don't like the current rules let's work on them collaboratively," Foshee stated.

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