Brennan Linsley / AP
Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015 | 2 a.m.
Getting to the Las Vegas Pride festival or the iHeartRadio Music Festival last weekend left some residents experiencing sticker shock at the high cost of taking Uber or Lyft.
But it wasn’t just the “surge” pricing — in which the services charge more when demand is high.
Uber’s and Lyft’s base fees in Las Vegas are several times higher than those in many other cities. In Los Angeles, Lyft’s base fee is 80 cents, plus $1.10 per mile and 21 cents per minute. In Chicago, Uber charges a base fare of $1.70, plus 90 cents per mile and 20 cents per minute.
In the valley, both Uber and Lyft charge a base fare of $2.40, and $1.85 per mile and 30 cents per minute. A Lyft spokesperson said the company set prices in part by comparing its service to that of local competitors. A spokesperson for Uber declined to comment.
Add in surge pricing, and it can leave a dent in customers’ wallets.
State Senate Minority Leader Aaron Ford, a Democrat, said he had pushed for a rate cap during legislative debates on legalizing the services. Although he supports ride-hailing services, he said there should be parity between the new companies and traditional taxi services, which have maximum rates set by law.
“We cap taxicabs in the name of consumer protection,” he said. “If this continues, I would want to look into it.”
Taxicab companies, as well as critics of Uber and Lyft, say surge pricing is gouging. The ride-hailing companies say the practice encourages more drivers during times of high demand. They also note that passengers must agree to the prices.
Uber does not limit how high surge pricing can go. Lyft caps it at 200 percent of the normal rate. Uber operates 1,000 cars throughout Nevada but has permission to operate an unlimited number of vehicles. As more cars hit the road, prices may surge less as more supply meets demand.