Yes Virginia, Uber has landed in Las Vegas and the battle has begun. Uber is a mobile app service that will dispatch an independent contractor with a private (newer model) vehicle to pick you up and take you anywhere you want to go for a reasonable price.
Here in Las Vegas, Uber can “legally” operate, but since they are not a licensed commercial carrier with bonding, insurance and permits to operate, their drivers are banned/barred/not allowed to pick up at the airport or at the main entrances of most major strip hotels. The battle sits on defining what Uber is; A mobile app company or a taxi dispatch service?
That question will hopefully be answered here soon as the court battle begins next week.
The Vegas Taxi-Cab Mafia Battle
Anyone who has traveled to or lives in Las Vegas knows that Las Vegas taxi-cab service is horrible. That’s what Uber is capitalizing on. But to blame the cab drivers for the taxi cab problems is stupid. The drivers are operating under draconian rules and regulations meant for the cab owners to keep power and make money, not serve the customers. The Nevada Taxi Authority is the mouthpiece for the 4 major taxi cab owners and they make the rules and run the cabs as a state sanctioned monopoly.
The TA, as they are called, hates competition and has spent a lot of money over the decades protecting their racket. You can’t teach old mobsters like these new tricks, so instead of bringing their business model into the new century, they are calling out the Uber drivers who than get their vehicles impounded and the driver gets fined up to $10,000.
Problems With Vegas Taxi’s
- The cabbie is paid about 30% of the meter. This makes them want to stay close to the action (the Strip) where they can turn rides over quickly so they can make their quota and keep their jobs. Long-hauling from the airport (going the tunnel route to the south end of the Strip) is an easy way to make their book/quota each shift. In most major cities, the cabbie actually rents the car and can keep their profits. Renting makes them less fearful of losing their job because it is up to them to make more money and provide a better service working as hard or as little as they want to.
- The TA works hard to make rules that keep out or restrain anything that would take tourists out of the cab line and into other modes of transportation (limos, vans, etc..)
- If you are not riding in their cabs, you are not seeing all the expensive advertising they are getting paid to promote. less riders means less money they can charge for the advertising and the advertiser has other options for marketing.
- They charge extra for using credit cards and they can not email you a receipt
Problems with Uber
- Drivers are not commercially insured. They are using their own personal automobile and auto insurance. This is Vegas, we are home to some of the worst drivers (and uninsured drivers) in the western hemisphere. Uber has a $1 million policy to help cover any accidents. But it’s offered as a last resort to any other coverage the driver may have and if you need to tap into it because of an accident, good luck getting it to pay off without a long legal battle or paperwork fight.
- Drivers are independent contractors. Want to place bets on how many of them report this income on their taxes in April??
- Cars are not inspected. Uber takes it on the drivers word that they are well maintained. Being a newer model means nothing here.
Should Uber be Allowed to Operate in Las Vegas?
Being from a limo background and having been a chauffeur on the Las Vegas Strip, I have seen both sides of the issue. The cab companies are slave drivers, greedy and out of touch with the modern cab customer. They want more money without the work that competition would create. So they pay whoever they need to pay and support whatever laws they can help create that would keep them in power and in control.
Uber brings a new concept and approach to the marketplace. But lets call them what they are; A private car dispatch service… They take money from people and dispatch a car for them and afterward, they pay the driver minus fee. That’s a commercial transportation service. A taxi cab service for short. Or in Vegas terms, an escort service.
If the cab companies would bring themselves into the modern world, they would make money, their drivers would make money and the cab riders would get a better experience. They would not have to fear companies like Uber if they ran their businesses the way they should be running.
- Lease the cabs to the drivers
- Offer modern payment options without heavy fees
- Create your own app that will offer customers on-demand services at reasonable fees!!!!
My beef with Uber is that the drivers are freelancers without any over sight and the vehicles are not commercially insured with proven maintenance. Otherwise…. UBER ON!
Get a free Uber Ride
Every new rider who signs up with my referral code will get their first ride free (with this code and for being a friend of Mark Anthony/The Vegas Tourist, as well as a new customer of Uber, you get a free ride and so do I)