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Business improves for the taxi industry after COVID-19 deflated ridership

Tourism is starting to rebound
Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 5:48 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - After a tough year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local taxi drivers are thrilled more tourists are returning to the city. And they are optimistic demand for rides will continue to improve as the coronavirus’ grip on tourism continues to loosen.

At hotels in the French Quarter taxis lined up for fares.

Ronald Washington sat inside his cab.

“It’s picking up, the last couple of weeks it’s picked up quite a bit, yes,” said Washington.

Demand for rides took a hit over the past year because of the virus-driven health crisis.

Kirtan Parmar is General Manager for United Cabs, Inc.

“It’s been very rough; it has been very rough. We have been down to almost 13 cabs at one time, but we hung in there, you know,” said Parmar.

He says the relaxing of coronavirus restrictions by government is having an impact on the taxi business.

“Since they lifted the restrictions up, it’s pretty good, it’s picking up a little bit,” Parmar stated.

At Armstrong International Airport, taxis from various companies as well as Uber and Lyft drivers eagerly picked up travelers.

Nationwide, millions of people traveled this Memorial Day and over the weekend leading up to the holiday.

Job Johnson is a driver for a rideshare company.

“There’s a lot of people coming in town, business been good,” said Johnson. Really, really busy out there.”

And even though more people are coming to town now, those who make their living behind the wheel of a vehicle say they are eager to see even more visitors arrive in the coming months.

“More people are coming into the city now. It’s going to be like, they got the Jazz Fest coming up and more things are coming up, but even before those things happen, you know, seem like more people, they’re glad to get back to New Orleans,” said Washington.

Parmar also hopes big conventions begin returning to the city soon, but he realizes it may not happen overnight.

“It’s going to take time, we’re looking forward for busy times,” Parmar said.

And the improving tourism to date is a relief.

“Hopefully, it will be a better year than last year,” said Parmar.

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