Las Vegas Sun File
Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
In another sign that the Las Vegas tourism economy is showing signs of life, the Nevada Taxicab Authority on Tuesday unanimously approved the temporary allocation of additional cabs on Las Vegas streets for the New Year’s Eve weekend and for conventions on the January calendar.
With indications pointing to heavy turnouts for the New Year’s Eve celebration, the International Consumer Electronics Show and Adult Entertainment Expo Jan. 6-9, and the Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show and World of Concrete conventions Jan. 18-21, the five-member board that regulates taxi operations in Clark County gave the green light to more cabs.
The board accepted a recommendation from the taxi industry for New Year’s Eve and the CES-Adult Expo events, but it followed the authority staff recommendation, which was half as many cabs as the industry wanted, for the SHOT show and World of Concrete events.
On New Year’s Eve, the number of additional cabs will fluctuate from five to 14 per taxi company over four days. For CES and the Adult Expo, an additional 13 to 15 cabs per company will be permitted. And for the SHOT show and World of Concrete, five additional cabs per company will be allowed.
The taxi industry cited New Year’s Eve falling on a Friday night and the potential for more visitors with the opening of the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas as reasons for additional cabs that weekend. Industry representatives cited poor service during CES last year and cab lines with waits of more than 30 minutes at convention centers as reasons to add more cabs during that show.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority estimates that 120,000 people will attend the 2011 CES show at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and 30,000 people are expected at the Adult Expo at the Sands Exposition Center.
The 2011 SHOT show is expected to draw 55,000 people to the Sands Expo Center, and another 55,000 will be at the Las Vegas Convention Center for World of Concrete. In addition to those shows, the Let’s Play Hockey International Expo is expected to bring in 4,000 people to Paris Las Vegas Jan. 17-19, and Arbonne International’s Global Training Conference is scheduled to bring 8,300 people to the MGM Grand Jan. 18-20.
Not everybody was happy with the cab allocations.
Several cab drivers pleaded with the board not to allow more cabs, citing the larger number of vehicles would give them a smaller slice of the total revenue. They also said additional cabs would create more congestion on city streets.
But taxi industry leaders argued that last year’s CES service was below par and some conventioneers could opt for other transportation choices if service is bad.
“I wasn’t too proud of last year’s service (at CES),” said Cheryl Knapp, general manager of Whittlesea Bell Transportation. “All it takes is just one bad service experience to lose that customer, and it’s hard to ever get them back. Our competition is out there just waiting for us to fail.”
In other business, the board got an update on a proposal to post signs at McCarran International Airport listing a range of cab fares from the airport to various Strip and downtown resorts as a means of educating the riding public about the illegal practice of long-hauling passengers.
Long-hauling usually involves cab drivers who use the tunnel at McCarran to take passengers to the Strip or downtown from the airport. The longer route generally results in a higher fare.
Several industry representatives were skeptical about listing a range of fares because several circumstances, including heavy traffic on surface streets, can result in a higher fare.
Several cab drivers have urged the board to do something about long-hauling because they believe it’s dishonest and they want to be fair with their customers. Some have recommended fining cab companies as well as disciplining drivers so that the companies would step up their efforts to thwart long-haulers.
The board is expected to reconsider the matter in January or February.