City Provides Update On Ridesharing Operations
NEW ORLEANS – Today, the City of New Orleans provided an update to the New Orleans City Council Transportation and Airport Committee on ridesharing operations and their impact on the taxicab industry since being introduced to the New Orleans market last year.
In April 2015, Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed an ordinance permitting ridesharing that creates definitions and regulations for the operations of Transportation Network Companies (TNC) and TNC vehicles. The ordinance was the result of discussions between the City, City Council and various stakeholders, along with input from the public. Currently, Uber is the only TNC operating in the New Orleans market.
According to the City’s Department of Safety and Permits, the introduction of TNC Service did not take away significant customers from the taxi industry. Instead, it increased the number of overall customers utilizing for-hire transportation.
In 2015, there were 1.2 million TNC rides. During the same period, there were approximately 2.8 million taxi rides. This is down only 150,000 taxi rides from 2014, which saw approximately 2.9 million rides. This decrease can be attributed to normal market fluctuations, the City’s Department of Safety and Permits reported. In 2013, there were approximately 2.6 million taxi rides. Based on the City’s analysis, TNCs provided approximately 1 million new trips that otherwise may not have occurred by meeting an untapped consumer demand for a different type of ridership experience.
In addition, TNCs met its pledge of increasing market availability to historically less-served areas such as Algiers and New Orleans East. While over half (57%) of all taxi rides started from the French Quarter or Central Business District; only about 40% of TNC rides originated in the French Quarter and Central Business District.
Meanwhile, taxi revenues continued to show increases in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Taxi service departing the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport has also seen a slight increase.
In April 2012, the City Council passed sweeping taxicab reforms recommended by the Landrieu Administration. City officials said the reforms have already improved vehicle standards, CPNC standards, and driver and passenger safety. The changes brought significant improvements to the New Orleans taxicab industry by requiring newer, cleaner vehicles, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and credit card machines in all cars. Also, in 2014, the City Council passed regulations permitting luxury car services to use app-based technology, which allowed for Uber Black to operate in New Orleans.
Under City law, ridesharing operations are permitted by defining a TNC as a person, organization or corporation that connects passengers with drivers using their personal vehicles for the purposes of for-hire vehicle transportation through a TNC digital network. Drivers are not required to be employees of the TNC. Services commence when a driver logs in to the TNC digital application and conclude when the driver logs out.
Under the Ordinance, the Department of Safety and Permits has full discretion in issuing permits and is responsible for:
• Ensuring compliance and enforcing violations;
• Collecting an annual permit fee of $15,000, as well as 50 cents per trip originating in Orleans Parish to be paid each quarter; and,
• Submitting lists of TNC drivers to be randomly drug tested.
TNCs found to be operating without a permit will be fined no less than $500 for the first offense and will not be allowed to obtain a permit for one calendar year. Subsequent offenses will result in the maximum fine allowable and permanent prohibition from obtaining a TNC permit.
To apply for a TNC permit, applicants must provide:
• Name of the business;
• Name, phone number, mailing address, and street address of the applicant's agent for service of process;
• Proof of insurance;
• Description of standard rates;
• Occupational license;
• Proof of physical office address in Orleans Parish; and,
• Any additional information requested by the Department of Safety and Permits Director
Each TNC must maintain a website that provides:
• Customer service telephone number and/or email address;
• The TNC’s zero tolerance policy for driver drug and alcohol use;
• Reporting mechanism for drivers suspected of zero tolerance policy violations;
• Rate calculation formula; and,
• Department of Safety and Permits complaint contact information.
TNCs must maintain a registry with the Department of Safety and Permits of all employed or contracted TNC drivers that must be electronically updated the first of each month or within 24 hours of request. The registry will include the following information:
• Full name;
• Date of birth;
• Louisiana driver's license number;
• Louisiana motor vehicle registration number of vehicle or license plate number; and,
• Active dates of employment or contracts.
TNC vehicle requirements are:
• Must be owned or leased by driver;
• Must have an insurance policy that covers TNC vehicles (provided by the driver or the TNC itself);
• Must be annually inspected by a state-certified mechanic or garage;
• Must be under seven years old; and,
• Cannot be licensed as a taxicab, limousine, horse-drawn carriage, pedicab, tour vehicle, courtesy vehicle, non-emergency medical vehicle or airport shuttle.
Additional TNC requirements and regulations:
• Must perform background checks on drivers;
• Cannot increase rates during emergencies;
• Minimum charge for a trip set at $3.50;
• Minimum charge for trip to/from Louis Armstrong International set at $33.00;
• Not permitted to pick up passengers at Louis Armstrong International without prior authorization from the New Orleans Aviation Board;
• Cannot pick up passengers hailed from the street or at designated taxicab stands;
• Drivers must submit to a drug test within 24 hours of an accident;
• Cannot impose additional charges to persons with physical disabilities; and,
• Must comply with laws relative to the accommodation of service animals.