After a bumpy legal road, Uber arrives in New Orleans

Published: Sep. 20, 2014 at 3:00 AM CDT
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After a long, bumpy legal road, Uber Black has arrived in New Orleans.

Uber Black is a service of the Uber app that lets you call for a luxury car and watch the car come to you via live cell phone GPS data tracking.

Friday evening, FOX 8 watched as live GPS tracking showed a Lincoln SUV turn the corner off of Poydras and head towards New Orleans Uber offices on Magazine Street.

"The demand's already been incredible, we're seeing the app has been opened a substantial number of times," said Tom Hayes, General Manager of Uber New Orleans.

It's a service expected by many tourists, because it's already operating in more than 110 U.S. cities and 45 countries.

"If we need a taxi, yes, we would definitely hit up Uber," said Patrick Lanni, who was visiting New Orleans from D.C. for a bachelor party.

Now, that list includes New Orleans.

"Day one, it's been going pretty well," said Tammy Williams, an Uber Driver. "They've been very helpful in explaining how the system works and everything."

Cam Jordan of the Saints took the first official ride, and Hayes said cars quickly filled up soon after.

For now, customers who are not in car-service hotspots may receive messages that say "no cars available."

"We're 24 hours a day, and we'll continue to grow the numbers. Keep trying. We'll continue to grow the numbers," said Hayes.

Taxis can't be part of Uber until the company rolls out Uber Taxi.

However, an attorney representing multiple taxi companies that have tried to roll out their own app said certain taxi and limo companies have made clear they will not join Uber because the company takes 20 percent of the fare.

"I don't see that being economically feasible for taxis to be in a Uber-like system when they're paying so much to Uber when they're paying for all of this other stuff up front to take care of, for just keeping their license," said attorney Yvette D'aunoy.

More worrisome, Yvette D'aunoy said, is the idea of Uber's ride share service Uber X. Uber X employs regular drivers, without for-hire licenses, to drive their own cars.

Hayes did not directly answer whether Uber X is on it's way to New Orleans.

"We think it would be a great option for the people of New Orleans. Right now we're focused on getting Uber Black up and running, but it's definitely something that we're going to keep working on to bring more affordable options to the people of New Orleans," said Hayes.

Uber has seen its share of controversy.

This year, Uber has fought to operate in at least ten cities across the Southeast and Atlantic seaboard of the U.S.

Most of the fights involved laws and ordinances in local city councils. In some cities, drivers were ticketed for operating a business without a license or not having a chauffeur's license.

Uber maintains that because no money changes hands directly between riders and drivers, it meets the letter of the law.

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