NEW ORLEANS - For the second time this week, many cabs will be out of commission as drivers will be protesting over the city's new taxi regulations.
City leaders have long said that taxi drivers are vital to the tourist industry - usually, the driver is the first person a visitor to the city meets.
However, leaders have also long questioned the condition of the taxi fleet.
For the past year, the city had been working on new regulations that would require credit card machines, security cameras, GPS units and a mandate that no cab be older than 10 years.
Those regulations went into effect on August 20 after being approved by a federal judge.
"The industry is not against improved conditions. This is a classic case of over regulation. The city is trying to do too much, too fast, and most of the drivers can't afford it," said Ike Spears, an attorney for the taxi industry.
Most drivers would have to buy a new cab based on the mandate, Spears said, and the drivers cannot get comprehensive insurance. So, if the cab gets hit, the driver is out of pocket, he said.
The profit margin for drivers is extremely slim, he said.
A "sick-out" was held on Tuesday, in which some drivers did not go to work.
On Thursday, drivers brought their protest to City Hall. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m, cabbies circled around the building.
"We need extra time. We have made a formal request to the City Council and the mayor for a six month reprieve, which would give most of the industry an opportunity to come into compliance," Spears said.
Some drivers that have followed the regulations said that the city's taxi fleet will be in line with other major cities.