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Taxicab Authority talks no-shows, fines for Las Vegas drivers

Updated July 2, 2018 - 3:10 pm

Getting a taxi in Las Vegas isn’t always easy, even when you’re an applicant to oversee the Taxicab Authority.

Byron Goynes, a Las Vegas planning commissioner who was a finalist this month to be the authority’s administrator, recounted a phone call he recently placed to Western Cab Co. for a ride from Boulevard Mall to McCarran International Airport.

A recording of Goynes’ job interview was replayed during the Taxicab Authority’s meeting on Thursday, revealing his frustration in waiting for more than an hour for a driver to arrive after Goynes make several calls to Western Cab’s dispatch center.

Goynes said he was trying to take the ride in an attempt to understand the local taxicab industry. Instead, he got back into his vehicle and drove home.

“This is absolutely unacceptable,” said Stan Olsen, chairman of the the regulatory agency that oversees Southern Nevada’s 16 taxi companies. “These types of situations in the future will be treated with a heavy hand, and I mean a fine.”

Olsen said drivers could face a maximum $5,000 fine per offense for failing to show up.

Desiree Dante, director of operations for Western Cab, told the Taxicab Authority that she was not aware of the incident and that the driver should have been disciplined.

“We need every ride we can get,” Dante said, referring to the monthly declines in ridership and revenue among local taxi companies since September 2015, when ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft were allowed to operate in Southern Nevada.

Incoming Taxicab Authority Administrator Scott Whittemore told the board that he wants the local taxi industry to get a “fair shake in this town.”

Goynes’ experience was brought up during a larger discussion about the refusal of some cab companies to respond to service calls.

Several companies have installed GPS devices inside cabs as a way to monitor driver activity.

The Taxicab Authority on Thursday asked cab companies to develop a plan by August that would give them access to the same information, allowing the agency to more easily compile internal reports.

Cab companies that have not yet installed the technology were asked to determine when their cabs could be outfitted with GPS devices, which cost roughly $900 apiece, Olsen said.

The Taxicab Authority on Thursday delayed taking action on several other items, including dress code requirements for drivers, whether to implement flat-fee fare zones and whether cabbies should be allowed to use the McCarran airport connector tunnel to access casinos and hotels in downtown Las Vegas.

Several taxicab company representatives said it was too soon to discuss the use of the airport tunnel or fare zones because of traffic congestion caused by Project Neon, the $1 billion reconfiguration of the Spaghetti Bowl interchange in downtown.

When it comes to a dress code, Olsen said that drivers should be required to wear shirts with a collar, even if it’s a lightweight polo-style shirt.

Contact Art Marroquin at amarroquin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0336. Follow @AMarroquin_LV on Twitter.

A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Scott Whittemore.

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