The app-based car service Uber hopes Tuesday will mark a big step in allowing the company to launch operations in the city.
"We're trying to get here just as fast as we can and, you know, we've been trying to work with the City Council and the mayor's office to make that happen," said Tom Hayes, general manager for Uber's New Orleans-area operations.
The council's transportation committee is set to consider a proposal that would do away with the three-hour minimum for luxury cars and allow rides to be arranged through an Internet-based application.
However, Hayes said other obstacles remain.
"Our biggest concern right now is the fare minimums that are proposed in the ordinance," Hayes said. "As written, it doesn't actually work with our business model."
Hayes hopes council members will also consider scrapping those luxury vehicle minimums - $25 for sedans, $35 for SUVs.
Meanwhile, the entire proposal is raising concerns for many in the taxi and limo industry.
"This legislation, if it comes to pass, would create a third party - taxi cabs being at one level, limousines being at another level. Now comes a black car service," said Clint Ball, a driver with Flagship Limousines.
Ball said fellow for-hire drivers, especially cabbies, fear a green light for Uber would leave many across the industry seeing red.
"They're concerned about keeping their jobs because many companies are not sure they can stay afloat with this type of economic pressure," he said. "Instead of people being able to make more money, they actually wind up losing money. Businesses, per se, go broke."
If the path is cleared for Uber to bring in its luxury car service, UberBLACK, Hayes argued that the industry's pie actually gets bigger.
"We'll actually be partnering with existing limo providers, so we actually see - from a lot of the limo providers and drivers we're talking to - they see a real opportunity to grow their business," he said.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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