Pedicab license New Orleans
The pedicabs' debut came just over a year after the City Council first voted to allow them to pick up paying customers in the city. The council voted on Sept. 2, 2010, to allow 45 of the new vehicles to operate during a trial period of 12 to 24 months, after which the city will decide whether to keep the limit at 45 or expand it to 65. During the trial period, each operator can have up to 15 of the 45 permits.
The law says the pedicabs can operate almost anywhere in the city, though operators are expected to concentrate in the French Quarter, Central Business District and perhaps Uptown, such as on Magazine Street or around Tulane and Loyola universities.
The law sets a basic fare of $5 per passenger for the first six blocks of a trip, plus $1 per passenger for each additional block.
A series of procedural snafus and legal challenges by taxi and carriage owners fearful of competition repeatedly delayed the new industry's launch after the council's 2010 vote, climaxed by a dispute this year between the City Council and the Landrieu administration over whether to pick the operators through a merit system or a lottery.
The administration favored a lottery, arguing that it was impossible to find meaningful criteria by which to choose among applicants for a brand new industry, and it won the day. The lottery was held Aug. 12, with about 40 companies applying for the right to operate 15 pedicabs each.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer address the crowd across from Jackson Square as city officials celebrate the beginning of pedicab operations in the French Quarter with the city's three pedicab companies on Thursday.
The three winners were Bike Taxi Unlimited, owned by Rob Lynch; Need a Ride LLC, owned by Evan Alford; and NOLA Pedicabs LLC, owned by Vincent Marcello.
Their selection meant that none of the would-be entrepreneurs who led the campaign to get pedicabs authorized in New Orleans will have an ownership stake in the new industry, at least during the initial trial period.
Rob Lynch is the brother of P.J. Lynch, who was among the first and most persistent advocates for legalizing pedicabs in New Orleans. Rob Lynch said his brother, who submitted a separate application in the lottery, will be renting a vehicle from him but is not an owner of Bike Taxi Unlimited.
Lynch's company already has all 15 of its pedicabs, which cost about $3, 800 apiece. The other two companies have about half a dozen each and expect to get the rest by the end of the month.