The Jefferson Parish Council is putting off a decision on how to regulate ride-booking services such as Uber and Lyft and is bringing in two local civic groups to try to broker an agreement.
The council, which was scheduled to vote on a proposal Wednesday, now expects to take up the issue Aug. 10. In the meantime, both companies continue to operate in a kind of legal limbo in Jefferson, while traditional cab companies complain of unfair competition.
The Jefferson Business Council and the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce have offered to act as intermediaries among the ride-booking companies, the cab drivers and parish officials.
One of the remaining points of contention is whether Uber and Lyft drivers should have to undergo additional background checks conducted by the parish. The companies, which do their own checks, say it would be an undue burden; cabbies insist those reviews are essential for customers’ safety.
Business Council leader Tony Ligi and Chamber of Commerce head Todd Murphy said resolving the conflict will be crucial if Jefferson Parish wants to be perceived as progressive by the young people who have flocked to the new services.
The city of New Orleans more than a year ago hashed out rules for companies like Uber and Lyft, which use cellphone apps to connect people in need of a ride with those using privately owned cars to provide them. “We think Jefferson needs to find a way to work this out so we, too, can be seen as progressive,” Murphy said.
Not everyone was happy about the delay. Cab drivers wanted the council to vote Wednesday on proposed rules that would have mandated background checks and operating fees comparable to those to which the taxi industry is subjected.
Uber has said it would not be willing to do business in Jefferson under those regulations. And several drivers for Lyft urged council members Wednesday not to stymie employment opportunities with the ride-booking companies with unreasonably onerous rules.