Taxis

Las Vegas, Los Angeles Offer Reminders Why Passengers Are Fleeing Taxis for Uber, Lyft

Screwed over in fees, when not being turned away due to racism.

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There's also the $1 fee for not deliberately getting lost.
Credit: Jan Tik / photo on flickr

We need those heavily regulated taxi companies to protect us from scams and fraud, right? That's what we keep getting told. Who knows who those Lyft and Uber drivers are? How can we trust them? Turns out maybe we can trust them entirely because they aren't part of the taxi cartel. From the Associated Press in Las Vegas (where the taxi industry fought very, very hard to try to keep ride-sharing services out):

Las Vegas-area cabs are overcharging customers to the tune of $47 million a year, according to an audit released Tuesday of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, which regulates the rides in Clark County.

Auditors for the governor's finance office blamed a $3 credit card processing fee that they say is much higher than in other cities and probably shouldn't exist. They also criticized a decision to increase a fuel surcharge even as gas prices are tanking, saying having the surcharge at all is unique among the 12 major Western cities that the taxi board tracks. …

The audit panned the fee, saying it far exceeds the cost of cab companies accepting cards. State agencies pay 8.5 cents to Wells Fargo per credit card transaction, auditors said, and taxicab regulatory agencies in other cities allow fees between 3.8 percent and 5 percent of the total fare.

The $3 fee accounts for about 17 percent of the total average cab fare in Clark County and should be immediately reduced to 90 cents at most or halted altogether, auditors said.

They also said a cab fuel surcharge that regulators approved last summer is based on a federal gas-price average that's higher than Las Vegas rates. The fee structure, which the taxi industry supports, is designed so customers pay a full 12 cents more per mile once gas hits $3.25 a gallon, instead of kicking in gradually depending on how high gas prices rise, the audit said.

Auditors were so critical of the Nevada Taxicab Authority that they recommended abolishing it and turning over its duties to another agency.

An interesting detail here is that the cabbies and the union that represents them hate the credit processing fee. They do not get a cut of it. It all goes to the taxi companies, and it sometimes ends up with them getting screwed over on tips. That's an important reminder that the protectionist regulations of the taxi industry cartels isn't just about milking the customers while providing sub-par services. It's also about making sure employees are beholden to them regardless of how poorly they're treated and keeping them from assisting competition by jumping ship (which is exactly what is happening with ride-sharing services—there are quite a few former cab drivers).

But then there's still plenty of loathsomeness still on display by cab drivers. An undercover sting by police has uncovered that cabbies are refusing to pick up black dudes at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The City Council will consider suggestions to ban cabbies from the airport for a year if they're caught. While I'm not terribly fond of telling cabbies who they must pick up, such regulations are a necessary consequence due to the creation of a government-protected cartel.

But the good news is that we may start seeing better behavior from cabbies at LAX very soon. Starting today, Uber can legally pick up passengers at the airport, joining Lyft, who got permission to start in December. Studies have shown that after ride-sharing services enter a city's market, those who continue to use taxis find they get better treatment from cabbies.  

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  1. An undercover sting by police has uncovered that cabbies are refusing to pick up black dudes at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The City Council will consider suggestions to ban cabbies from the airport for a year if they’re caught.

    Ever since violent and property crime were eliminated in LA, the cops have had a tough time filling the hours.

    1. Well, that’s nice. You’ve lead directly to my quote. Knock it off.

  2. While I’m not terribly fond of telling cabbies who they must pick up, such regulations are a necessary consequence due to the creation of a government-protected cartel.

    Great, another open borders thread.

  3. “black dudes”

    I’m sure they’d rather pick up black gentlemen.

    I’m not really into PC, but using ‘dudes’ is a little too casual for an actual associate editor.

    1. Scott chose that after a late night cram-session mulling over “bros” and “dudes”.

      It actually came down to a coin toss.

      1. not “homeys”?

        1. That’s more of an Hispanic thing…

      2. But did the coin actually flip?

    2. That’s nothing! He used the word still twice in one sentence!

      “But then there’s still plenty of loathsomeness still on display by cab drivers. ”

      DO YOU EVEN AVOID REDUNDANCY, BRO?!?

      1. “ENGLISH, MUTHAFUCKA, DO YOU SPEAK IT?”

      2. Related. Sergei Dovlatov was known to avoid sentences that had words starting with the same letter. In Russian.

  4. True story: I was at the Communications Workers of America’s headquarters last month for their announcement that they were endorsing Bernie Sanders for president. It was a cold, rainy day and after the event was over I asked a union official there what was the best place nearby to hail a cab.

    The official said she didn’t know herself and then admitted that she was in the process of contacting Uber when I had asked her. “I probably shouldn’t have told you that,” she said sheepishly. In other words, Uber is apparently so convenient even its professional critics use it…

    1. I nominate this as the story of the week.

  5. Cabs always overcharge. Half the time the meter is running fast, or is “broken”. They rush from stoplight to stoplight so they can charge you for both distance and waiting time. Dirty, shitty, late and they’ll never take your credit card. Cabs are the worst.

    1. How would rushing from stop light to stop sign allow them to charge you for both distance and waiting time if the distance between stop lights is the same no matter how long it takes them to get there?

      1. The miles you traveled would remain the same, but the time waiting at every light would be added. At least according to the graphic.

  6. You know what other four-letter group ends in an i and was very concerned about moving people about…?

    1. The Three Magi?

  7. Last time I rode in a cab I told him where I wanted to go and said I’d give him eight bucks (all I had in my wallet) for his trouble. He have me a ride and didn’t even turn on the meter. I gave him the money and went on my way.

  8. This article reminded me that I need to dispute a Lyft charge. I was overcharged by about $25. I got a ride to LAX but was also charged for a trip from LAX to Santa Monica, which I didn’t take. Let’s see how Lyft deals with my complaint.

    1. Maybe they’ll send you a mustache.

  9. On Friday my wife and got a cab from the airport to get to the Elara – normally a short drive and about $17 before tip. No, this jackass took us through the tunnel in order to double the fare. Then he talked about wanting to go to see some tall blonde hookers in Amsterdam and dropped us off at Planet Hollywood – tearing out of there like a bolt of lightning before we could determine we were at the wrong place.

    Bad news for him; we paid with credit card – my wife quickly called the cab company listed on the receipt and gave them an earful.

  10. I used Uber and a cab on my last Vegas trip. The difference in experiences was striking. Uber wasn’t allowed at the airport, so I had to do a cab from there. I just about lost my shit when I saw that I’d have to pay $3 to use a credit card. And of course, the guy couldn’t change $100 (I usually have $20s but I had pulled a large amount for the vegas trip).

    The rest of the weekend, I used Uber. It was hit or miss. The app and the drivers were great, but the drivers really didn’t know Vegas like a cabbie did, so they had trouble finding our hotel and missed turns into certain casinos. This is where I saw great value of a person specialized in transporting around the city. Nevertheless, I had a better time with Uber.

    When we went to the airport at the end of our trip, the Uber app allowed me to post a request to go from my hotel to the airport, so I figured it would be fine. In reality, Uber was still banned from the airport. So the guy got us in the car like friends (one in the front seat) and then turned off his uber app as he entered the airport (evidently the cops/cabbies used the app’s car location ability to catch drivers in the airport). We ended up paying half the price for the Uber because our trip “ended” right before entering the airport.

    1. One cool thing about Vegas: all of the casinos have free parking, for anyone. Park in one and walk anywhere. Nobody cares. Wonderfully convenient.

        1. Too bad!

  11. I read the linked LA Times article, and there’s really not much there:

    The undercover investigation revealed that taxi drivers refused requests for rides from two black men five times out of 25 requests, airport officials said. In some cases, the taxi drivers may have refused the rides because they asked to go a short distance, a request that taxi drivers often dislike.

    And I find it fascinating that in the one case which does look like racial discrimination, we are not told the name or race of the driver. Could it be that he’s from the Middle East, and such details would complicate the “racism” narrative…?

  12. Competition increases customer satisfaction and decreases prices? I’m shocked! The Bern tells me government can do both better.

  13. Studies have shown that after ride-sharing services enter a city’s market, those who continue to use taxis find they get better treatment from cabbies.

    Just ignore my friend, he’s mentally disabled.

  14. We should also use cabs since they are responsible and carry good insurance packages!

    “S.F. Yellow Cab may file for bankruptcy”
    […]
    “The move comes six months after a San Francisco Superior Court jury found Yellow Cab liable for an $8 million award to a passenger who suffered brain injury and partial paralysis in a Yellow Cab vehicle.
    […]
    Yellow Cab carries $1 million in liability insurance”
    http://www.sfgate.com/business…..741243.php
    —————————-
    At least the lefty Chron listed that; compare to the slimy rag, The Guardian:

    “It’s not only the difference in regulation that gives Uber an advantage over local taxi companies ? accident settlements can cripple the finances of smaller companies.
    […]
    Uber’s billions of dollars have allowed it to settle accident claims, such as a wrongful death suit filed after an Uber driver struck and killed a six-year-old pedestrian in San Francisco, without breaking a sweat.”
    http://www.theguardian.com/us-…..mpetition-

    They just lucked into being successful right?

  15. I’ve never lived in a place where I had to take cabs regularly. I’ve only ever had to take cabs a handful of times, a couple of which were in Vegas.

    So, my sample size is small, but why do cabbies always seem like low-life scumbags? They look and act like shit. They generally have made us feel uncomfortable. What’s so hard about dressing and acting like a professional?

    Oh, yeah, it’s a monopoly. But hopefully not much longer.

  16. They also criticized a decision to increase a fuel surcharge even as gas prices are tanking

    They converted a substantial part of the cab fleet in Vegas to propane and LNG years ago, so that might be why.

  17. Cabbies don’t pick up black people because black people are (on average) poor tippers. There are studies that back this up.

    But I guess if you can get the government to force people to serve you, then you don’t have to tip well.

  18. Taxicabs dependably cheat. A fraction of the time the meter is running quick, or is “broken”. They surge from stoplight to stoplight so they can charge you for both separation and holding up time. Grimy, shitty, late and they’ll never assume your praise card. Taxis are the most noticeably bad.

  19. It was a cool, blustery day and after the occasion was over I asked a union authority there what was the best place close-by to hail a taxicab. The authority said she didn’t have any acquaintance with herself and afterward conceded that she was reaching Uber when I had asked her. “I presumably shouldn’t have let you know that,” she said timidly.

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