Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS -- With thousands of football fans arriving in town this weekend, cab drivers hope business will be booming. But before you try to catch a ride, there are new regulations you need to know.
Jennifer Roth said her experience with cabs in New Orleans hasn't been what she expected.
'They drive pretty crazy, weaving in and out, and it's a little jerky,' said Roth, a visitor from Austin, TX.
But the Louisiana Public Service Commission, or LPSC, is hoping new regulations will make sure passengers have a better experience. The new rules went into effect last month.
And those in town for Saturday's playoff game and Monday's BCS Championship will be able to see the transition firsthand.
Among the new regulations, all cabs registered with the LPSC must be able to accept credit or debit cards.
And starting next year, taxi cabs can be no more than 7 years old. Some cab drivers say that's an unnecessary hardship.
'It's a very big expense, because a lot of people can't afford no 7-year cab,' said Joseph Parks, who has been a cab driver in New Orleans for 50 years. 'I feel like as long as the cab in good condition, it passes inspection, that should be okay.'
'What it is, is the demand for a standard, and to make sure that the vehicle's in great operating condition,' said Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, who authored the order.
For the first time, there's also passenger bill of rights. Among the 17 items: drivers can't chat on a cell phone while a passenger's in the car. Passengers have the right to be charged the posted fare. And cabs must take customers to any location they wish.
But some believe that's unsafe.
'Taking a guy anywhere he got to go, I don't agree with that,' said Parks. 'Couple neighborhoods are very dangerous, especially at night.'
But for the most part, tourists say the new regulations are a big step toward a better visit.
'If you get out of the airplane and see an old rundown cab and a driver talking on his phone, you're going to feel, it's going to make you feel like 'I'm not safe,'' said Joshua Turner, a visitor from Houston, TX who was in town for the Sugar Bowl.
'I think it's pretty critical, as much as I myself travel, I know you kind of judge a lot of what you get out of the gate, it kind of sets a tone,' said Roth.
Cabs must also have working seatbelts, heat and A/C. Drivers must have their information clearly posted.
About half the cabs in New Orleans are registered with the LPSC, which regulates taxis that travel at least 10 miles outside parish lines.
The city hopes to strengthen its own regulations by the Super Bowl next year.
If you have a complaint against a cab driver, contact the Public Service Commission. You can find the contact information for your commissioner at www.lpsc.org. Or contact the main office by calling 800-256-2397. You may also write 602 North 5th Street, 12th Floor, Baton Rouge, LA 70802.