Changes considered to allow Uber to operate in New Orleans

Published: Jul. 29, 2014 at 8:06 PM CDT
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The New Orleans City Council will consider changes to make it easier for "Uber" to operate its black car service in New Orleans.

Uber is an app that connects customers with taxi and limo drivers.

"Our emails are screaming for Uber services and Uber like services," said Councilwoman Susan Guidry.

The question before the council will be is it possible to adapt to new technology without putting customers in danger, and without putting cab and limo drivers out of business?

In multiple transportation committee meetings, cab drivers overwhelmingly have said it's not possible.

"It is hypocritical, preposterous, and indeed disgusting that we are even entertaining Uber in our market today," said Haim Dahan with Liberty Bell cabs.

The mayor's office supports the Uber Black service with certain restrictions.

The committee's main concern through each of the meetings has been the issue of Uber X, a rideshare component, which does not require drivers to be licensed through the city, and would be illegal in New Orleans. Uber X is already operating in Baton Rouge.

"We obviously want to be ahead of it in terms of having proper enforcement on the front end, but we're already behind much of the rest of the country in terms of adopting and adapting to the new framework in the for-hire industry," said Ryan Berni with Mayor Mitch Landrieu's Office.

Berni says they're trying to ramp up enforcement capabilities before Uber can drive into the market with  measures those in the cab industry say won't work.

"If you know they're coming, you're know they're operating illegally it is your job to protect this industry just like you protect your own child. And that's not happening," said Jason Coleman of Coleman Cab Co.

After debating in the Transportation Committee multiple times, the full council will hear all sides of the argument for the first time when it takes up the related-ordinances.

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