Last year, the New Orleans City Council passed sweeping reforms to the taxicab fleet that resulted in cleaner, newer and more reliable cabs on the streets of New Orleans.
Today, taxi riders in our city experience vastly improved customer service. Now our residents and visitors have the benefit of cabs equipped with GPS navigation and credit card machines. Accessible taxis for people with disabilities are coming online. Cameras required by the reform have improved safety for drivers and customers. And many drivers have realized their dream of holding their own license and running their own business.
For too long, taxicabs had been cited as an impediment to attracting new businesses, conventions, major events and leisure travelers. Local residents regularly expressed major concerns about reliability, vehicle appearance and safety.
After working with taxicab drivers and company owners, hospitality industry leaders and residents, we now have common-sense reforms in place that have modernized the taxicab experience and improved taxicab passenger and driver safety in New Orleans.
A major piece of the taxicab reform package was a requirement of taxicab vehicles to be 7 years of age or less, a standard that was in the middle of our peer cities.
Unfortunately, some are looking to roll back this provision even though nearly 75 percent of our city’s taxicabs are already in compliance with this 7-year maximum age requirement.
Newer-model vehicles provide the greatest impact on safety service and environment. With more modern safety features, reduced taxicab inspection failure rates and better passenger comfort, newer models improve the overall quality of service, enhance customer satisfaction and increase ridership.
A move to roll back or delay the 7-year maximum age requirement would erase many of the gains of the recent past.
Our residents and visitors deserve a clean, safe and accessible taxicab experience that delivers a world-class first impression of our city. The taxicab reforms debated and passed were then, and continue now to be, essential to the continued growth of our city and how we are perceived.
Rolling back or delaying any taxicab reforms sends the wrong message.
Malachi S. Hull, deputy director
New Orleans Department of Safety and Permits