Staff Editorial: Uber would bring more transportation options to New Orleans

Uber’s entrance into the New Orleans market would increase consumer choice and improve safety for Tulane students. The car-hailing phone application allows individuals to connect with the nearest available driver, see the route and fare ahead of time, and pay with a credit card automatically as riders arrive at their destinations.

Most Tulane students understand the difficulty of hailing a taxi in this city. Too often cab company phones lines are tied up, Uptown taxis are hard to find or reserved taxis simply never show up. During major events such as Mardi Gras, finding a cab becomes even more difficult.

Public transportation, including the notoriously unreliable St. Charles Avenue streetcar, does little to improve the transportation situation, especially during late-night hours. Uber would provide an additional transportation option and valuable competition to the New Orleans taxi industry.

Industry leaders worry about competition from Uber, but competition is valuable for the consumer. It will force the taxi industry to innovate and keep up with the technologies that consumers demand. Fear is not a valid reason to prohibit the entrance of competitors into the marketplace.

Other Uber opponents claim that UberX, which allows drivers to use their everyday cars to pick up customers, would jeopardize customers’ safety. Yet, at the present time, Uber only wants to bring its UberBlack service, which allows customers to hail private high-end sedans, to New Orleans.

Even if UberX is someday allowed to operate in New Orleans, safety will not be a major concern. Uber drivers must undergo a rigorous series of background checks, and they are not approved to drive if they have a history of violent crime, fatal accidents or other major crimes and driving offenses.

Safety is a much larger concern with the current lack of transportation options in this city. Customers are frequently left stranded on a street corner late at night waiting for a taxi that never arrives.

Uber is successful in more than 100 cities around the world. New Orleans should join this list of cities and allow Uber to operate without restrictions to improve transportation options in the city.

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