NEW ORLEANS -- As taxi cab reforms continue to make their way to the streets of New Orleans, tourists and locals alike are getting some conflicting messages about what they can expect, especially when it comes to credit cards.
It all comes on the eve of a big City Council vote about airport cab service.
For many New Orleans visitors, their first stop off the plane is the taxi line at the airport. That's exactly what Bob James did when he arrived for the plastic surgery convention over the weekend.
“I did see a sign outside at the airport that said that you could use credit cards, so that was my expectation was that when I arrived at the hotel was that I would be able to use my credit card,” he said.
Now as passengers arrive at Armstrong airport and they're waiting in the taxicab line, they're all given a card that explains all of the fares and fees are that cabs can charge.
But when James, the brother of a WWL-TV producer, arrived at the Marriott downtown, he said the cab driver told him, “There was a $1 charge just for coming from the airport, and then, evidently there was a $3 charge for using the credit card.”
“That is not legal,” said Malachi Hull, deputy director for the New Orleans Office of Safety and Permits.
Hull said surcharges and minimum fares for credit card usage are illegal under new taxi reform laws. Plus, cabs can't refuse to take passengers if they only have plastic. At the airport, even now, all cabs are required to take credit cards, but some still aren't doing it.
We asked Kirk Kelton about his experience getting a cab from the airport outside the Hilton Riverside.
“I asked the lady that calls for the cabs at the airport to make sure that they took credit cards and she said, yes, they all take credit cards. And when I got in the cab, I noticed that his credit card machine was not working and he said that he would not accept credit cards. He only wanted cash,” Kelton said.
It's one of the biggest reforms the Landrieu administration is trying to accelerate. But it's a move some cab companies want to put the brakes on.
A vote is expected from the City Council Thursday to require all airport cabs to meet new city codes.
If drivers are found in violation, the city can ticket and fine a cab driver, or yank their permit. They urge passengers to take down the driver's name and CPNC number anytime they get into a cab.
To report specific complaints about cab rides, call (504) 658-7176.