Ridesharing Companies, Including Uber, Get the Green-Light in Baton Rouge

On Wednesday (June 25), the Baton Rouge Metro Council voted 8-2 in favor of allowing ridesharing companies, such as Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, to operate in the area.

UberDiane Samuels from NOLA.com reported that the council voted to approve three separate measures that would greenlight the ridesharing companies, including a “resolution inviting them to come into the city, and an ordinance establishing how they’d be required to conduct driver background checks and vehicle inspections.”

Councilmember Tara Wickers said following the ruling, “I think it’s a great opportunity for our city to grow and look like the big city that we are.”

While some disagree, safety and consumer protection remain a high priority for many of the ride sharing companies. Passengers can request rides via smartphone app, and then screened and registered drivers will arrive for service, all the while tracked and rated through the apps.

The Baton Rouge ruling came just one day after a similar deliberation took place at the New Orleans City Hall, although it was less focused on ridesharing options in the city and more focused on the limos and black cars in the transportation industry. Uber GM Tom Hayes and Ryan Berni, a member of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration spoke in favor of the proposed changes to the for-hire vehicle code.

“Uber’s ultimate goal is to supplement the [transportation] industry,” said Hayes, “and provide and safe, reliable alternative,” to the existing transport options. “Transportation is not a fixed market or pie. We’re not competing, we’re just trying to grow the size of the pie.”

Initially, Uber and its supporters in New Orleans are working to allow Uber Black, the higher-end transportation option, to operate in town. If the regulations can be amended, it will likely pave the way for the ridesharing services (UberX) to operate as well.