Cabbies will finally have a few options to get around gridlock along the Las Vegas Strip under a plan approved Thursday.
Following more than a year of debate and consideration, the Taxicab Authority authorized taxi drivers to use a set of preapproved “parallel routes” along Frank Sinatra Drive, Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, Koval Lane and Interstate 15 when Las Vegas Boulevard is congested.
Officials with local cab companies and the authority said the policy change will help passengers get to their destinations faster and will reduce complaints about drivers who take longer routes than necessary — an illegal practice known as long-hauling.
“I think it’s an absolute shame that it took this long to get to this point, because a lot of time, energy and money was wasted here,” said Stan Olsen, chairman of the five-member board regulating Clark County’s taxi industry.
“It’s up to the industry to police their drivers,” Olsen told representatives from the 16 cab companies operating across Southern Nevada. “If you don’t, we will sanction the industry and not the drivers alone.”
Although the revised policy focuses on Las Vegas Boulevard, Olsen said a similar plan for parallel routes between McCarran International Airport and the Strip will be examined during the board’s next meeting in June.
Several taxi companies broached the idea of parallel routes in March 2017 after running tests between Strip and downtown hotels during the midday and evening commutes.
The results showed that passengers could save time or money by avoiding the Strip. In some cases, it was both faster and cheaper to take a parallel route.
Ruben Aquino, chief investigator for the authority, said he saw similar results during a round of tests to fact-check the cab industry’s report.
“It gives the drivers some clarification on what’s acceptable,” said Kimberly Maxson-Rushton, executive director and general counsel for the Livery Operators Association, which represents several local taxi operators.
“The drivers shouldn’t have to worry about being stopped for long-hauling because they know that Las Vegas Boulevard is congested during peak times,” she said. “The ability to be able to use those parallel routes won’t increase a passenger’s costs and, more than likely, will decrease the time for them to get to their destination.”
Previously, taxi drivers were required to take the shortest possible route to avoid accusations of long-hauling. The authority issued 615 citations to drivers accused of long-hauling last year, down from 636 in 2016.
Even though all five voting members of the authority and cab company operators previously had wanted to move ahead, the policy change was largely stalled by the agency’s former administrator, Ronald Grogan.
State law requires cab drivers to take the “most direct” route, which Grogan interpreted to solely mean distance. The view confined cabbies to using the traffic-clogged Strip when ferrying tourists between casinos and other venues.
Supporters of parallel routes argued that a function of time, distance and cost should be factored when determining the most direct route for cab drivers, ultimately resulting in Grogan’s resignation in March.
Joe “J.D.” Decker, interim administrator for the authority, said he agreed with the definition of “most direct” routes set by the board and cab company owners.
Savings on some approved parallel routes
Starting at Mandalay Bay, via Frank Sinatra Drive:
To Caesars Palace at night: $1.13 and five minutes saved
To Treasure Island at night: 95 cents and four minutes saved
Starting at New York-New York, via Interstate 15:
To Downtown Grand at night: $3.44 and 20 minutes saved
To Stratosphere at night: 18 cents and six minutes saved
Starting at MGM Grand, via Koval Lane:
To Stratosphere at night: $1.50 and five minutes saved
To Wynn at night: $1.60 and two minutes saved
Source: Livery Operators Association