The hail-a-cab app Uber, which is currently doing its best to enter the New Orleans market on its own terms, will be delivering ice cream via its mobile platform from noon until 6 p.m. today, July 18.
Consumers will hail ice cream the same way they hail cabs on the app. They only need to download Uber, select "Ice Cream" and hit request. Cool treats are $20 for five.
Uber Black, the platform the company hopes to launch in New Orleans, works by using existing black cars and limos and effectively turning them into high end taxis available with a metered rate, to be hailed via smartphone. Uber Ice Cream works the same way, using existing ice cream trucks to deliver dessert - and also, presumably, to teach a city new to the app, and that might be getting the app in the near future, how to use it.
There's no question as to the timing of the ice cream delivery. The transportation committee is scheduled to meet July 22 to vote on legislation that would allow Uber and other hail-a-cab companies to operate in the city. Still, according to local general manager Thomas Hayes, New Orleans is one of 144 cities participating in Uber Ice Cream.
The Transportation and Airport Committee agreed during a meeting today to defer a vote on an ordinance that would allow hail-a-car apps like Uber to operate in New Orleans.
Ryan Berni, an advisor to Mayor Mitch Landrieu and a key architect of the legislation, explained that the ordinance removes a three-hour reservation requirement for limos and hired cars. It also allows them to make trips to the airport and adjusts the rate structures so that those services would be able to charge per mile and minute, as opposed to a pre-arranged fee. In an effort to widen the gap between for-hire cars hailed through services like Uber and a traditional taxi, the ordinance would set a price floor for limos and sedans. Any ride in a sedan would have a minimum fee of $25, and any ride in a limo would have a minimum fee of $35. Trips to the airport would carry a $75 minimum for sedans and a $90 minimum for SUVs.
Berni said the city looked at other jurisdictions like Nashville to get a model for the legislation, then adjusted the framework to adhere to the New Orleans market. Director of local governmental affairs Eric Granderson reiterated that the proposed ordinances makes no changes to taxi regulations, and that services like Uber X, Lyft and Sidecar are not on the table for discussion.
But discuss them the council did.
On Thursday, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will host a meeting for paratransit consumers to voice any questions or concerns about bus and streetcar services in the city. Members of the RTA board, along with bus operators and other staffers will be on hand to answer questions, according to Patrice Bell Mercadel, a spokeswoman for the RTA.
The annual meeting will take place in the RTA board room at 2817 Canal St. at 4 p.m. As a reminder, all transit users are still invited to apply for one of 11 spots on the RTA's newly formed Riders Advisory Committee, which seeks input from a broad range of riders. The application is available here.
On the heels of its third annual Bike to Work Day earlier this month, the New Orleans bicycle advocacy group Bike Easy has powered up weekly bike trains to keep people self-propelled on their commutes.
Bike trains are groups of bikers who ride to work together, led by a volunteer conductor. The trains are for everyone, from experienced riders to new ones, and aim to not only help beginners negotiate routes, rules of the road, potholes and other obstacles, but also to encourage a solid biking community for commuters.
Two Mid-City routes leave Bayou St. John at Orleans Avenue each Thursday at 7:45 a.m. One train heads to UNO and the other ends in the CBD. A Friday Uptown ride leaves the St. Charles Avenue entrance of Audubon Park at 7:45 a.m. and ends in the CBD. That train will stop at St. Charles Avenue and Antonine Street at 8:15 a.m. to pick up more riders.
Bike Easy is considering additional routes, too. Visit the organization's website for more information and to see route maps of the weekly rides.
Thanks to efforts like these, the Alliance for Biking and Walking recently ranked New Orleans eighth in the nation for bike commuting for 2014. That's up two spots from 2013, when New Orleans ranked 10th.
Ride New Orleans hosted its scheduled "day of action" yesterday evening to bring awareness to the lack of infrastructure at what the organization has dubbed the "CBD transit hub": the intersection of Elk Place and Canal Street stretching down toward Lasalle Street. Earlier that day, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) announced that it would hold a press conference before Ride's day of action. It announced at that press conference that it's working with the city to advance plans for a consolidated transit hub in the CBD.
Rachel Heiligman, Ride's executive director, said the purpose of the day was "to start a coordinated dialogue between transit riders, community members, business leaders and public officials focused on solutions for improving this critical point in our transit system."
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