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Uber Takes First Steps to Operate in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - The tech company Uber is beginning a process that it hopes will clear the way for it to arrange rides in New Orleans.

Thursday, the city council took its first look at an ordinance that would tweak some of the city’s transportation regulations and allow Uber to operate.

Uber provides a smart phone app that puts drivers in touch with customers who need rides.  Riders store their credit card information on the app, so no cash changes hands.  Even the tip is handled via the app.  Customers know in advance what a ride will cost, and they can choose the car.

“It’s a very seamless, almost magical experience,” said Tom Hayes who is Uber’s manager in New Orleans.  “Uber is a technology platform that seamlessly connects riders and drivers together.”

But many taxi cab drivers and company owners in New Orleans want Uber to hit the road. They say they’ve spent thousands of dollars on GPS, credit card machines, security cameras and other technologies that the Uber drivers will not be required to have.

Uber says it does not plan to compete with cab companies.  Hayes says Uber arranges rides that are more in keeping with a limousine service.  In fact, the proposed changes to the city’s transportation laws for Uber target limousine regulations.

While cab drivers and company owners are against the current Uber ordinance, it turns out the tech company is as well.  Hayes hopes the city can make some additional changes.

“As it’s written right now, we actually would not be able to operate,” he said.

At least one New Orleans business plans to compete with Uber using its own technology.  For more on that, click the video button above and watch our full report.