The Americans With Disabilities Act became law in 1990. It prohibits discrimination based on any kind of impairment, and mandates provision of access to public places for people in wheelchairs.
You may have noticed that over the past few years the city of New Orleans has been updating sidewalks to provide wheelchair access at intersections, so people in a wheelchair can do something as simple as cross the street. That’s a definite step forward, but other than the street you live on, wherever you go in a wheelchair, you have to get there somehow.
If you drive or have someone who can drive you, you’re good. If you can’t drive, you can always get an Uber or Lyft, right? Well, not exactly. Because there are so few Wheelchair Access Vehicles, if you’re in a wheelchair getting an Uber or Lyft is mostly an exercise in frustration.
That’s why Irell Warren created WE LIFT Rideshare. It’s a rideshare company specifically for people in wheelchairs. WE LIFT works like other rideshares, with its own app. And it’s available in every one of Louisiana’s 64 parishes.
If you wander along the 2,340 miles of the Mississippi River, from New Orleans to Minneapolis Minnesota, you’re going to see a lot of tug boats pushing barges.
Here’s some interesting facts about those river barges: When it comes to dry goods – like bananas or coal – a single barge carries the same amount of cargo as 70 semi-trailer trucks. And for liquid cargo, like oil, a single barge carries the equivalent of 144 semi-trailers.
As well as this efficiency, the marine transportation industry claims the nation’s waterways provide the safest and most environmentally friendly mode of transportation in the country.
Commercial river traffic is officially known by the slightly oxymoronic term, “inland marine transport,” and here in New Orleans it’s big business. One of the biggest, local, inland marine companies is Blessey Marine Services. They operate 85 tugboats, 175 barges, and employ around 750 people. The President and CEO of Blessey Marine Services is Clark Todd.
Irell’s rideshare company is a rare convergence of doing good and good business. And Clark’s company, moving goods on our waterways, although not without its own challenges, is certainly good business. These businesses are at very different stages of development. Clark’s company has a reach way beyond its New Orleans roots, and Irell’s company is growing in that direction.