This week Ian McNulty reports that cab service has gotten so bad in New Orleans that it's damaging restaurants' business and the image of the city as a tourist destination. Wait times are so long—or cabs seemingly non-existent—especially during special events such as Jazz Fest, that some restaurateurs have even resorted to driving guests back to their hotels. Patois co-owner Leon Touzant is even considering becoming an Uber driver just to deal with the situation.
Uptown establishments like Patois seem to be hurting the worst, with owners of Carrollton Market, Upperline, Jamila's and Cure also telling McNulty that the cab sitch has definitely impacted their business in a negative way, leaving guests with a bad impression. Even Commander's Palace, which has its own taxi stand across the street, can't guarantee guests a cab during busier weekends. To make matters worse Upperline owner JoAnn Clevenger notes that St. Charles streetcar lines have been just as spotty lately:
I've never heard so much anger and frustration from visitors. They'll call us from the streetcar saying they're on their way but will be late, or that they've been trying to get a streetcar but three have passed them by and they can't get a cab. It's really gotten very weird.
So what gives? There's 1600 cabs in New Orleans. 450 of those are run by United Cab, whose prez Syed Kazmi's response to the cab crisis is as follows: "You can't add 500 more cabs for the weekend and pull them back on Monday." Add in psycho traffic, road construction, and the fact that "you have only so many cabs all over the city in different areas," and you're looking at cabs that " are not always going to be near you," or in some cases never near you.