Of Taxis and Ride Share Programs

One of the biggest hubbubs in Las Vegas these days is the Senate Bill 439, which will determine the fate of ride share programs (such as Uber and Lyft) in Nevada. The argument basically comes down to jobs and safety.

If you are a taxi driver in Las Vegas, your point is that Uber and friends will substantially ruin the taxi cab market in Las Vegas, thus putting lots of folks out of work. You also claim that Uber does not adhere to the same safety standards as the Nevada Taxicab Authority.

If you are Uber or other similar ride share companies, you claim that the system has worked in other cities, that it's safe (background checks, monitoring, etc.) and that an open market is good for consumers.

Is there room for both in the Las Vegas market? Perhaps. But here's the deal. When a new competitor threatens the existing status quo, then there's going to be a market shift. Taxi cab drivers can argue all they want against Uber, but eventually ride sharing is going to come to Las Vegas. Taxis have to offer something more to their customers. They've noticed that visitors want more convenience and better service, so the Nevada Taxicab Authority approved Ride Genie, which is basically an app that hails a cab and adds $3 to the ride. But to me, that's not the answer.

Taxis are already expensive, which is why I rent a car when I'm in Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, the base rate for a ride is $3.30, which is higher than Los Angeles ($2.85) and New York City ($2.50). Taxis have to  lower their prices and provide better service to Strip, off-Strip and downtown locations. That's a tough agenda, considering that taxi cab drivers don't make a lot of money. And, according to Forbes, taxi driver was the 4th worst job in the US in 2014. A lot of that has to do with the lack of projected growth due to... you guessed it, increased ride share programs.

So I don't envy taxi cab drivers in Las Vegas. Unless there are more creative ways to making it work, they may be a dying breed. Fighting ride share is a tough battle, so they will have to think of different ways to compete for Las Vegas customers.

What are your thoughts? How do you like to get around in Las Vegas? What do you think of taxis, public transportation, the monorail, and the potential of ride share programs in the city? I'd love to hear your thoughts.