Tuesday, June 29, 2010 | 7:05 p.m.
Nevada Taxicab Authority staff recommended a dramatic change in the way people pay for taxi rides to and from McCarran International Airport, but any changes are still likely months away.
The recommendation came during the authority’s monthly board meetings, where board members sought to address the problems of long-hauling, a practice where drivers take passengers on a longer route to their destination to charge them more.
Most of the long-hauling in Las Vegas happens when drivers take tourists to the Strip from McCarran via the airport tunnel rather than the more direct Paradise Road route.
Staff recommended the authority introduce a flat rate of $20 for all trips to and from the airport, so no matter which way a taxi goes, the trip would cost the same.
But board members appeared hesitant to give up the traditional pricing structure where passengers are charged based on how long they are in the taxi.
The board scheduled a July 14 workshop for authority officials to discuss the plan with cab companies and their drivers.
Taking a longer route is legal when drivers ask permission from the passengers, often because it can be faster to take a longer route when there is traffic congestion.
But enforcing long-haul rules has been difficult for the authority.
Administrator Gordon Walker said adding additional officers to the authority’s enforcement team would not make much of a difference. Instead, the authority needs a comprehensive solution to the problem.
The flat rate would remove any questions of drivers’ integrity and could actually increase the number of people who take a taxi instead of a shuttle or limo, officials said.
But some drivers said they aren’t sure a flat fee would be fair because people taking a short ride to a hotel near the Strip would pay the same as someone going downtown.
The authority said the specifics of the program, such as the distance from the airport that would be covered by the flat rate, is still open for discussion at the workshop.
And any change to the rates would have to be approved by the board at a future meeting.