Daniel Rothberg / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015 | 2 a.m.
It was 1:48 p.m. and Jason Cluxton’s black Jeep Wrangler was 12 minutes away.
The Uber driver arrived in front of the Las Vegas Sun’s newsroom in Henderson right on time.
Just moments after the ride-hailing service came online Tuesday in Clark County, Cluxton started his first Uber ride at 2 p.m.
Destination: In-N-Out. A late lunch.
Cluxton, a former Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan and Iraq from 2001 to 2008, said he sold his defense contracting company earlier this year.
Since he’s not working full time but recently purchased the car, Uber made sense. He hopes to use the income to pay for his living expenses.
“I figured I’d give this Uber thing a try,” said Cluxton, a Seattle native.
The cost to use Uber is similar to that of a taxi. As of this week, it's $2.40 base fare, plus 30 cents a minute and $1.85 per mile. The 2.79-mile ride for lunch cost $12.31.
Cluxton, also a tournament poker player, upgraded the Wrangler in preparation. He spent $200 on an iPad mount to let riders play with it during trips.
He also put in a dashcam as a safety measure: “It’s Las Vegas. People get drunk. They have imaginations.”
Uber has been readying its launch in Las Vegas for months. In September, it began hosting information sessions for prospective drivers at a local Hampton Inn, fielding questions and helping drivers with their applications.
Cluxton went to the pop-up employment center two weeks ago. He wasn’t alone — he waited for three hours. His girlfriend also drives for Uber.
“It was like the DMV,” he said.
Now on the road, Cluxton expects to spend several hours a week ferrying passengers on the Strip and elsewhere. He was enthusiastic at the prospect, especially for the chance to meet other veterans, except for one caveat.
“The only hesitation I have about the whole thing is picking up ‘that’ passenger,” he said, meaning someone who might puke in the back seat of his new car.
Having survived suicide bombings in the U.S. Army, Cluxton said anything that could happen to him driving an Uber would be “small potatoes.”
Really, he’s looking forward to the stories from his riders. On the drive back from In-N-Out, he added: “I’m looking forward to some of the comedic stuff.”