Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed a city ordinance to allow UberX and Lyft to operate in New Orleans. The ride sharing services have been mired in controversy around the country due to issues with insurance coverage and clashes with unionized taxi drivers and other labor organizations. UberBlack, the luxury Uber option which uses only licensed chauffeurs in black vehicles, has already been operating in the New Orleans area for some time, but supporters were eager to see the operation of UberX as well. The ordinance places a variety of restrictions on drivers and companies, including a requirement that Uber drivers and riders be able to resolve disputes with the company in court, without arbitration first.
The services will have to pay $15,000 a year and 50 cents per trip to operate in the city, but in return for those fees they will be allowed to have as many drivers registered with them as they like. Drivers may not allow potential riders to hail them from the street; they must use the app. “Surge pricing,” a model that allows the companies to hike rates during times of high demand, will be allowed except during declared emergencies. The rules also call for drivers to get background checks, require up to 25 drivers per company to be drug-tested quarterly and put some limits on the age of vehicles that can be used.
On the insurance side, the company or the driver must have primary liability insurance up to $25,000 for property damage, $50,000 for death or personal injury for one person and $100,000 for death or personal injury to more than one person while a driver is waiting for a fare. That policy jumps to $1 million and also must include $1 million in uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage while a passenger is in the vehicle.