In a photo posted to Twitter Thursday afternoon, Mayor Landrieu announced he was vetoing the New Orleans City Council’s decision to delay some of the new requirements for taxi cab drivers in New Orleans.
This story has 7 updates
It’s a win for taxi drivers: at today’s New Orleans City Council meeting new reforms involving cab companies using vehicles more than seven years old was up for a vote.
Cab drivers asked the council for a one-year delay to make those changes go into effect.
Four council members voted yes to the delay and 3 voted no, so the measure passed.
One catch: Mayor Landrieu can veto the decision within the next 10 days.
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Bottom line: a lot of drivers with outdated vehicles will have to buy newer vehicles.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.
The city of Kenner announced an extension in the deadline for cab drivers who service Armstrong International to meet new requirements for their vehicles.
New Orleans leaders put the new restrictions in place for cabs in that city. The requirements include installation of video cameras, credit card machines, and GPS. The requirements were extended to cabs that service customers at the airport, which is owned by New Orleans but inside Kenner city limits.
The deadline was originally December 31, 2012, with an eye on having plenty of updated cabs on the streets and working for the Super Bowl in February.
But a limited supply of cameras and other equipment prompted the deadline’s extension. Airport officials say they will monitor the supply situation and hope to present a solution at the next meeting of the Aviation Board.
The move came at the request of Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Armstrong International is in Kenner, but the city of New Orleans owns the property.
The new regulations require all cabs to have GPS, credit card machines, and security cameras. Many cab owners and drivers say they can’t afford the new technologies. They also say there’s a shortage of some of the equipment, so it’s unavailable.
New Orleans cab drivers tried to take their message directly to Mayor Mitch Landrieu Thursday.
They protested at the site of his scheduled outdoor press conference on St. Roch Avenue.
To avoid it Landrieu moved his outdoor press conference inside City Hall.
The taxi drivers want more time to install cameras, credit card machines and GPS devices in their vehicles.
They say the new required equiment needs to be implemented over time because it’s too expensive to purchase at once.
Drivers say they’ll need more than $20,000 to meet the regulations.
The city says the reforms are reasonable and are seen in cities that compete with New Orleans for tourists.
The October 1st deadline has passed for city taxi cabs to comply with new vehicle upgrade laws, like cameras and credit card machines.
Driver Billy Johnson drivers say the day is s a turning point, “This summer here is the worst summer we had ever.”
As of Monday, cab drivers must have installed cameras, credit card machines, a GPS, ID place cards and a top light that displays ‘on duty’ and ‘off duty.’
“A majority of them are not ready,” say driver Larry Henry, “It will be coming out of our pockets plain and simple.”
Plus, vehicles can’t be older than 11 years old. “That`s ridiculous. Everyone just can`t afford new automobiles,” says Henry.
“And the rent going to 460 a week now. That`s ridiculous,” says Johnson.
Henry says they he’s complianed about the new regulations but it’s already costing business: “I had several customers get out of my cab because of the cameras. They didn`t want to be photographed.”
Drivers will endure all credit card transaction fees and also staring Monday, fill out a daily trip log.“It’s only going to take a picture when they’re getting in and when they’re getting out. It’s not filming on the inside of the car,” says Johnson. “We are not allowed to look at the footage in the camera. That’s ridiculous.”
“Why do we got to turn our trip sheets into the company so they can know what we make and what we don’t make? We’re independent!”
Due to a backup installing cameras, an extension permit is granted until November 1st when taxi cab inspectors start enforcing.