Council hears push to regulate Uber in Jefferson Parish

Push to regulate Uber in Jefferson Parish

JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Taxi cab drivers continue to fight the app-based, ride sharing service Uber. During a public hearing Wednesday before the Jefferson Parish Council, a number of drivers voiced their concerns.

"You have to put regulations in place," said Delores Montgomery with the New Orleans cab drivers union AFSCME Local 234.

"All I'm asking is that you all pass something that is safe and it protects this parish as soon as possible," said Daniel Herbert of Metry Cab.

"What we need besides regulations, we need some enforcement, we need somebody out on the street to enforce these rules," said Eddie Cutno with AFSCME Local 234.

Cab drivers in both Jefferson Parish and New Orleans have long argued that Uber drivers aren't held to the same standards that they are. Uber has been operating in Jefferson Parish since last year, but the council is now considering an ordinance that would regulate Uber drivers the way cab drivers are regulated.

"Right now, the ordinance adds background checks, it adds a fee that would allow us to charge transportation network companies to come into the parish, it would allow for us to add personnel for enforcement, it also does drug testing," said Jefferson Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken.

But Uber says it wants Jefferson Parish to adopt an ordinance similar to what New Orleans has because that ordinance allows Uber, the company, to get a permit to operate instead of each individual driver having to go through the permitting process. Uber says they can then put drivers on the street as long as they have passed a background check, have insurance, a Louisiana driver's license and registration, as well as up-to-date brake tags and vehicle inspections. Uber argues the Jefferson Parish ordinance treats them like a taxi cab company when they're not.

"It would provide a structure for which Uber could operate in Jefferson Parish with some rules, with some regulations, but, we do want to be a progressive parish, we do want to have alternatives. People have asked us for those, so it's finding a balance for the traditional industry and the emerging industry," said Van Vrancken.

Uber released the following statement:

"We are pleased that the Jefferson Parish Council deferred the draft ordinance today for further input from all stakeholders. As currently drafted, the proposal would require Uber to shut down operations in unincorporated Jefferson Parish and is inconsistent with ordinances passed in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and other cities in Louisiana.  We look forward to continuing to work with the Council in the coming weeks to ensure that Jefferson Parish residents continue to have access to the reliable transportation options and flexible economic opportunities they have come to expect."

The council will vote on the ordinance June 22.

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