New Orleans Taxi Drivers Request Extension For Reforms

taxi reform Taxi drivers are asking for more time!

While some have been able to adapt to the new city rules, others say they want an extension.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter shows you why.

New Orleans taxi drivers are asking the city for an extension on regulations already set in motion.

Under taxi reforms approved last year, they’ve already had to install costly credit card machines, navigation systems, and surveillance cameras.

The next step restricts the age of vehicles on the road.

Trotter asked, “Do you understand what the city is trying to do?” “Absolutely, sounds like they’re just trying to be competitive and make it more inviting to use those taxis,” passenger Ed Schillo said.

The new restrictions set to take affect January first prohibit vehicles more than 7-years old.

A vote on the requested 1-year extension was tabled Thursday in council.

“We are short on time, it’s already mid-October and the deadline is the 31st of December. So, we need some action taken as soon as possible so we have time to change the vehicles,” said united cabs president Syed Kazmi.

He says the change will affect 25% of his 450-vehicle fleet.

Bottom line: a lot of drivers with outdated vehicles will have to buy newer vehicles.

Drivers we talked to say an extension could at least make the difference between picking up fares and the unemployment line.

Initial reforms, last year, cost the industry hundreds of veteran drivers.

“What is my fear, if we don’t get the extension there will be a lot of people looking to do the same thing,” Kazmi said.

“We cannot afford, we don’t make that much money,” taxi driver Jomo Jillo said.

He says an extension gives him a fighting chance.

“Then you have the time at least to save money and you can get ready for it, that’s what we want,” Jillo explained.

We turned to passengers about the new restrictions.

Trotter asked, “Does that matter to you?” “No, as long as it’s safe transportation,” passenger Mitch Hollifield replied. “I think if they focus on making it safe transportation, it really doesn’t matter.

“If it’s clean and it’s getting me to where I need to go absolutely not,” Schillo said.

Taxi drivers and fleet owners say it will cost an average of 15-thousand dollars per vehicle to comply with the new restrictions.

The issue comes up again before City Council’s transportation committee October 24th.