Mobile “e-hail” app for limousines to get hearing

The Nevada Transportation Authority will study a proposal from a Las Vegas technology company to consider licensing and setting rates for a smartphone hailing application for limousines.

Integrity Vehicle Solutions, a company that also has developed and is testing a GPS-based vehicle tracking system called Ride Integrity, has built a mobile “e-hail” app called Ride Genie that would work similarly to the ridesharing apps offered by companies such as Uber and Lyft.

The Transportation Authority, which regulates buses and limousines statewide, unanimously approved opening a tariff investigative docket and assigned Commissioner Keith Sakelhide to preside over it.

What that means is that Sakelhide would study the app and conduct hearings to determine if it should be offered for public use. Once the investigation is complete, a proposal to set a rate and fee structure would be brought to the three-member authority board for consideration.

At the authority board meeting Friday, Sakelhide said he has studied similar technology. He said he hopes to conduct hearings in July so that the authority board could approve it at its July meeting.

Ed Gehres, chief operating officer of Integrity Vehicle Solutions, a tech company that was spun off from Frias Transportation Management, said two companies that operate limousines in Southern Nevada — Bell Transportation and Presidential Limousine — have signed agreements to use Ride Genie as soon as it is approved by regulators. Two other limousine companies, Las Vegas Limousine and On Demand Sedan, have made verbal commitments to use the product.

It’s too early to tell how the tariff rates and fees would be written into the regulations.

Gehres said the technology would work similarly to apps developed by ridesharing companies. Those apps are downloaded from Apple and Android stores by consumers and used to hail rides from drivers affiliated with companies such as Uber and Lyft.

San Francisco-based Uber has been eyeing the Southern Nevada market for months and has advertised for drivers, but local transportation companies are working to keep them out by warning drivers that their vehicles could be impounded by Transportation Authority and Nevada Taxicab Authority officers for transporting customers without a license.

“The app works very similarly to those offered by rideshare companies by summoning a vehicle with a mobile device,” said Neal Tomlinson, an attorney representing Integrity Vehicle Solutions. “The difference is we’re following the rules.”

Uber has contended that as a ridesharing company, it brings people with vehicles together with people who need rides so it isn’t a transportation company.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow him on Twitter @RickVelotta.


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