Las Vegas Sun

February 19, 2017

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Taxicab Authority to lawmakers: Ride-sharing has spurred crime

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Leila Navidi

Taxicab Authority Police Investigator II L. Walker talks to a taxi driver at a long haul checkpoint near the entrance to the airport tunnel exiting McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Friday, June 8, 2012. The driver did not get a ticket.

Adding ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft to the Las Vegas Valley has resulted in more illegal cabs and more passengers being ripped off, said Ronald Grogan, administrator of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, at a Senate Transportation Committee meeting today.

The increased competition from Uber and Lyft drivers has had a negative effect on the industry, Grogan said,

“Because of the additional drivers and additional cars on the street, everyone in the industry is realizing less earnings than they were two years ago,” Grogan said. “We’ve seen increases in long hauling. We have also seen an increase in aggressive activity by drivers — drivers being aggressive toward passengers, drivers being aggressive on (other) drivers and even drivers on enforcement staff.”

Increased competition led to an increase in illegal ride activity, he said. “We probably do a half-dozen sting operations a month,” he said. “We find drivers with no licenses, some who have no insurance and in one case we found a person operating in a vehicle that was stolen from Southern California.

“We have actually had to involve Metro to make arrests because the people had outstanding warrants or there was evidence of crime in the cab itself,” he said.

The Taxicab Authority, which regulates rides in Clark County, has had its own issues recently. A 2016 audit of the agency found that cabs were overcharging passengers by $47 million a year in credit-card processing fees.

The audit said the fee, $3 per fare, far exceeded the cost of accepting cards. According to the audit, state agencies pay 8.5 cents to Wells Fargo per credit card transaction. Typically, taxis in other cities are allowed to charge fees between 3.8 percent and 5 percent of the total fare.

Grogan told the committee the Authority had studied the credit card issue and chose to leave the fee as is.

The fee was “not the high end of credit card fees,” he said. “It’s probably closer to the middle.”

In studying the fee, the agency found that the money was being spent in the proper way and was going toward “resources for employees and maintenance and upkeep,” Grogan said.

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