As the 2013 Super Bowl and Carnival season approach, the city is moving ahead to update taxicabs — what City Council Vice President Jackie Clarkson calls the "ambassadors" of the city. The council approved major updates to the city's taxi fleet in April — new rules that require cabs to carry security cameras and GPS devices, as well as credit card machines — and cars used as taxis must be less than 11 years old.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu echoed those changes last month during a Super Bowl progress report, while frustrated cab drivers blocked Poydras Street in protest.
On Nov. 1, council members voted unanimously — amid jeers from cab drivers — to extend those new regulations to cabs picking up passengers at Louis Armstrong International Airport. The amended new rules mean that, because the airport supports the measure, Jefferson Parish and Kenner cabs can't pick up from the airport going into New Orleans unless they also comply with the New Orleans rules, according to District A Councilwoman Susan Guidry.
Deputy Mayor Michelle Thomas said the extension will "broaden business opportunities" and ensure "visitors who come in will have a consistent experience" inside taxis going into and around New Orleans.
Council members read from a long list of supporters, including the New Orleans Aviation Board and GNO Inc. Representatives from the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, the New Orleans Business Alliance and the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau and others showed up to voice support.
Cabbies are demanding more time to comply. They have until next month to meet the new regulations.
— Alex Woodward