Please visit our new home and follow us on social media: Facebook & Twitter
Sign up as a Citizen Journalist and get involved in Information Activism.
Sign Up for Watchdog Updates!
Within hours of Uber’s Friday rollout in Nevada, Nevada Taxicab Authority officials were citing its drivers and impounding their cars and state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting the service from offering rides in Nevada.
The innovative service experienced the brunt of the state’s transportation laws and the cartel they protect.
On Friday afternoon, at least five drivers — four in Las Vegas and one in Reno — had been cited by regulators, according to Teri Williams, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Business and Industry. Those drivers face fines of up to $10,000, Williams said.
Uniformed officers were at the Fashion Show mall on the Strip late Friday to meet Uber driver Michael Elsner with a ticket.
Five unmarked white Nevada Taxicab Authority vehicles surrounded his blue Ford Focus as he was driving east on Fashion Show Drive about 3:30 p.m. He was pulled over while trying to drop off two passengers. Two undercover officers wore black ski masks.
More recent news reports indicate that two Uber drivers in Reno and eight in Las Vegas were cited and their vehicles impounded on Friday. Nevada’s transportation laws have been termed the “very worst” in the nation for their anti-competitive nature.
According to Geoffrey Lawrence, Director of Research and Legislative Affairs at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, “There’s a reason Uber has been successful despite the many legal hurdles the firm has faced in different markets—consumers value the service Uber provides.”
The legal protections given the taxi industry, Lawrence stated in an email, “[H]ave been more stringent in Las Vegas than in most cities because industry insiders had lobbied for a regulatory structure that requires all prospective competitors demonstrate both that a public need exists for their services and that they would not take business away from any existing taxi company. That kind of regulatory structure is as anti-capitalist as it gets.”
Uber contends that the temporary restraining order obtained by the Attorney General applies only to Carson City. Uber drivers continued to operate in Las Vegas and Reno over the weekend.
Uber’s actual impact on existing taxi companies, at least for now, may not be all that severe. Of the 26 million annual cab rides in the Las Vegas area, virtually all (95%) occur at McCarran International Airport or the Las Vegas Strip, the portion of Las Vegas Boulevard containing most of the major casino resorts.
Uber drivers will not be allowed to pick up riders on the Strip or at the airport, although they can drop off passengers at those locations. Instead, the company says it will focus on outlying residential areas it considers underserved by traditional taxis.
“We’re focusing on launching for people who live and work here,” Kasselman said. “There’s no question about the Strip having lots of transportation options, but the people that actually drive the economy in this city don’t have those options.”
“The taxi cartel has used its powerful lobbying influence to secure special legal protections and to enlist the state’s police force in its efforts to drive away a competitor,” Lawrence said.
[Header image from Uber’s Facebook page]
Tags: Catherine Cortez Masto, Geoffrey Lawrence, Nevada Policy Research Institute, NPRI, taxi, taxicab, Uber
- Las Vegas City Council commits taxpayers to $100+ mil for soccer stadium, if city gets team
- Author of book on presidential power grabs should have enough material for a sequel or two
- How Business-Friendly is Nevada? Just Ask Uber and Dotty’s and…
- Nevada 13th in tax collections, 45th in education spending
- Public School System May Not Know Who’s Around Your Kids