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On Demand Car Request Service Uber Receives Praise and Backlash from Local Officials

| November 25, 2013 | Comments (6)

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Word has rapidly spread that Malachai Hull, Director for the City of New Orleans’ Department of Safety and Permits Taxicab and For Hire Vehicle Bureau, and others have threatened Uber with arrests and fines if they enter into the New Orleans market.

UberUber is a venture-funded, on demand car request service, not a taxi company.

Some city officials have embraced Uber in Louisiana and have been working to get the company to the big easy. Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta is facing a push back.

“Uber is a service in virtually in every major city in the U.S. and Europe, I thought it was one of the most anti-business moves I’ve ever seen,” said Skrmetta.

Hull and the International Association of Transport Regulators have publicly criticized Uber, even calling their app designed for quick and easy booking a “rogue smartphone app.” One release stated that the “war against the rogue apps is not yet over but the tide has turned, and the IATR is winning!”

The New Orleans community is fighting back. After a cease-and-desist letter was sent to Uber, long before operations in the city were set to begin, dozens have expressed pro-Uber opinions, even creating a petition to bring the car service to Louisiana. As of 1:30 PM, 31 have signed the petition.

“It’s important that our city does not get in the way of allowing a quality business like Uber to come to New Orleans,” wrote Joe Corbett, creator of the petition. “Preventing Uber from doing business in New Orleans sends a bad message to the rest of the country about how we do business here. Do the right thing and let Uber come to New Orleans.”

Supporters of the petition have expressed that the city of New Orleans needs to show that its open to allowing innovative businesses into our market. “Let’s tell the city that it’s not ok to prevent good businesses from opening up shop in New Orleans,” continued Corbett.

Uber has also had issues entering many other markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, D.C., San Francisco, and more.

In support of Uber in New Orleans? Sign the petition.

Not in support of Uber in New Orleans? Comment below and tell us why!

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Category: #NOLAtech, Legal, New Orleans, News

About Julia Ballard: Julia is the current Editor-In-Chief of Silicon Bayou News. She loves the entrepreneurial and tech community in New Orleans and believes there is no better time to be living here. Catch up with her on Twitter @juliaballard or send her an email at julia@siliconbayounews.com. View author profile.

  • ackack

    I can see why the Cab companies are anti-Uber after the Super Bowl debacle. When the city took that many cabs out of commission at such short notice they didn’t give the drivers any time to save for the investments of new vehicles (http://www.afscme.org/blog/new-orleans-taxi-drivers-ready-to-fight-unfair-new-regulations). I’m not sure if Uber is the answer – here are the Chicago reviews: http://www.yelp.com/biz/uber-chicago?start=0&sort_by=date_desc&nb=1.

    Do we have the workforce that knows where to go? How can we employ the cab drivers that lost their rides after the fleets were reduced? This problem is a lot bigger than a high priced, high tech solution.

    • http://www.facebook.com/maxwell.gaudin Maxwell Gaudin

      Wow the Chicago reviews are terrible. Uber seems to really be fucking up there. I wonder if that’s across the board.

      • AllAboutTheDOD

        The drivers actually work for local car services that are already in business in NOLA. The app just gives people faster access to local car services. When thoses car services start getting more business via uber they start hiring more drivers, especially former taxi drivers. I travel and love to use uber. As a women, I feel safe because it shows me and keeps a record of who my driver is, I don’t have to stand outside to find or hail a cab and I don’t need to carry cash. As a minority it’s a relief not having to literally “catch” a cab. The backlash is because uber is a threat to transportation monopolies.
        Lastly if I could Uber in New Orleans I would party EVEN HARDER! $$ bar owners should support Uber!

  • Marc

    Someone should let the petitioners know that claiming this business is already in 50 other cities is definitely not a selling point here in NOLA. Personally, I’d much rather see the city alter its laws to help a New Orleans based start-up or small business like mine, than waste the effort helping some venture capitalist funded start-up, based in San Francisco and backed by Goldman Sachs among others, that’s designed to funnel profits out of the city and take money out of the pockets of cabbies or public transport. Beyond that, I just don’t see many people in this city being able to afford this. In all, it would be a waste of time for the city to take this on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/maxwell.gaudin Maxwell Gaudin

      You have some good points however our cabs are terrible. It’s not as if someone is starting their own Uber here. They also have the willpower and money to fight the city to actually get the laws changed. Once/if they’re up and running they will force the cabs to get their shit together.

      How long has it been now for even the food trucks to update the laws? It’s been years.

    • Ross Hinkle

      Should we also prevent Apple from selling it’s computers in New Orleans, and give some local start-ups the opportunity to make Louisiana-based computers instead? This is quite a remarkable anti-business, anti free-market capitalist point of view you’re taking. What difference does it make where this company is based or who its investors are? And since when was “venture backed” a bad thing? Uber should be able to compete in the marketplace just like everyone else. If you have an idea for a better transportation app and you can raise venture capital or other investor backing – go for it.

      And what empirical demographic study did you undertake before claiming “I just don’t see many people in this city being able to afford this?” If Uber thinks the New Orleans market can support their service, who are you to say it can’t? I imagine they’ve done a lot more homework than you on this question.

      Lastly – what laws does the city possibly need to change that are preventing small businesses and start-ups from thriving?