NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans cabbies blocked three lanes of Poydras Street in front of the Superdome. It was the starting line for a rolling protest that stretched for nearly a mile.
They are demanding more time to comply with new city regulations.
"We're here to let the City Council know that we can't do it in a timely manner like they want and we're out here in force to protest," said Joe Messina, United Cab vice president.
The city wants all cabs more than 11 years old off the streets. Taxis also have until the end of January to install GPSs, credit card machines, working air conditioners and security cameras.
Cabbies warn the new regulations may result in a taxi shortage during the Super Bowl.
"A lot of cabs are not going to be in compliance and if they're not in compliance, they can't work, so you're not going to have any cabs on the street," said Pat Murphy, who said he's driven cabs for nearly 50 years.
"This industry's ability to service both our citizens and tourists are in jeopardy unless the city, the mayor comes and sits down and talks with us," said Jack Culatta, a New Orleans attorney representing United Cab. "We want to work this out."
With signs like "Ditch Mitch," cabbies left little doubt how they feel about Mayor Mitch Landrieu, whose administration recommended the new rules.
At an morning news conference, the mayor dismissed the protest as just a handful of drivers.
He said 400 of the city's fleet of 1551 cabs are already in compliance with the new rules.
"Let this message go out loud and clear that there will be plenty enough ground transportation units on the ground during this tourism season," said Landrieu.
Cabbies now have 94 days to get into compliance.