Las Vegas taxicab drivers upset that there are too many other cabbies working the Strip for drivers to make a decent wage rallied on Las Vegas Boulevard Monday night.
At least 200 cabbies and supporters picketed in front of the demolished Frontier and Stardust resorts chanting “No More Cabs,” carrying signs that stated “Greed = More Cabs,” and encouraging a deafening barrage of horn-honking from passing cabdrivers.
Some cabbies parked their vehicles on the Strip and put their hazard lights on, shutting down two southbound lanes and snarling traffic.
Other drivers parked their cabs, three and four vehicles deep on Fashion Show Drive, effectively closing down the street which leads to the newly opened Trump Tower.
Mike Kilgo, who has driven a cab in Las Vegas for nine years, said drivers are seeing fewer fares which means fewer tips.
Most of a driver’s income comes from tips, he said.
Kilgo, a member of the International Technical Professional Employees union, helped organize Monday’s rally along with members from the United Steelworkers union. Together, the two unions represent about 4,500 taxi drivers.
“They (the Nevada Taxicab Authority) are putting more cabs out there on the street and the amount of business doesn’t call for that,” Kilgo said.
Samson Zelke has driven a cab in Las Vegas for four years and over that time he has seen the number of fares he’s gotten every shift drop over that time. He described long lines of taxicabs waiting for fares at hotels and resorts.
“We aren’t getting enough fares,” Zelke said.
Statistics from the Taxicab Authority support that claim.
The industry average trips per shift was down to 20 in February, nearly a 9 percent drop from February in 2007, according to statistics kept by the Taxicab Authority.
That’s actually not so bad compared to January’s statistics. The industry average trips per shift was down to 18, a 12 percent drop from January 2007.
In year-to-year comparisons, the average trip per shift has seen a three-year drop from 22 in 2005 to 21 in 2006 and 20 in 2007.
Jeffrey Nolan, a 12-year veteran cabby, said the cab companies pull in extra revenue from the advertisements on the extra vehicles on the road.
Kilgo said the cabbies will ask the Taxicab Authority to stop issuing new medallions at their April 22 meeting.
“We don’t need to fire anyone” to reduce the number of cabbies, said Kilgo.
Because of the high turnover rate of drivers quitting, there would a reasonable number of taxicabs on the road within a month, he said.
Kilgo said if the Taxicab Authority doesn’t listen there will be more picketing until the cabbies are heard.
Nolan agreed. “It seems the only way to send a message is for us to protest,” he said.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 387-2904.