Nevada Taxicab authority stalled on plan to permit parallel routes

Meters tick away the minutes and miles it takes to reach the driver’s destination in taxicabs across Las Vegas.

That function of time and distance is calculated, resulting in the passenger’s fare.

It’s a concept used for decades by cab companies, but there appears to be some confusion on the part of Ronald Grogan, administrator of the Nevada Taxicab Authority.

Grogan is pumping the brakes on an idea that would allow cab drivers to use “parallel routes” along Frank Sinatra Drive, Koval Lane and Interstate 15 whenever Las Vegas Boulevard is congested.

Local taxi companies and their regulators have worked together for at least a year in developing this plan for dealing with the fact that taking longer routes than necessary — a practice known as long-hauling — is illegal.

The hang-up comes from the definition of Nevada laws that haven’t been updated in more than 40 years, stating that drivers must take the “most direct” route from Point A to Point B.

Grogan interprets “most direct” to solely mean distance — a narrow view that mostly confines cabbies to using the traffic-clogged Strip when ferrying tourists between casinos and other venues.

From all appearances, all five voting members of the Taxicab Authority and cab company operators believe both distance and the time it takes to reach a destination should be factored when considering the “most direct” route.

Kind of like how taxi meters already operate.

“In this case, I think there is clear evidence the legislators wanted to write a bill to give advantage to the passenger, and distance doesn’t always do that,” Taxi Authority board member Roger Thompson said during the agency’s monthly board meeting Thursday.

Currently, taxicab drivers are required to take the shortest possible route to avoid accusations of long-hauling. Cabbies can only use alternate routes if passengers approve.

The Taxicab Authority issued 615 citations to drivers accused of long-hauling last year, down from 636 in 2016.

In the meantime, Grogan said he’s waiting on Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office to issue an opinion on how to define the “most direct route.”

The attorney general’s office confirmed to the Road Warrior that Grogan’s request was received last month, and work is underway to formalize it. It was unclear when a decision might be issued.

Waiting for Laxalt’s opinion isn’t necessary, according to Kimberly Maxson-Rushton, executive director and general counsel for the Livery Operators Association, which represents several local taxi operators.

Maxson-Rushton urged the Taxicab Authority to draw up a plan outlining alternate routes that could be reviewed by the Legislative Counsel Bureau to determine their legality.

By the close of their meeting, the Taxicab Authority members had agreed to hold yet another behind-the-scenes workshop to discuss options with the cab companies.

“We’re still plodding along, year after year, accomplishing nothing,” Stan Olsen, chairman of the Taxicab Authority, said in an exasperated tone Thursday.

Progress sometimes comes slowly. Expect to see another lively debate at the authority’s next meeting Feb. 22.

No change on Charleston

Some new speed limit signs popped up along Charleston Boulevard after crews paved a section of the road between Rainbow Boulevard and Town Center Drive. Charlie from Las Vegas believes the speed limit was reduced from 45 mph to 35 mph and wanted to know whether this is a permanent change.

There were no changes to the speed limit, but the signs are permanently in place, said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

The speed limit along that that stretch of Charleston is 45 mph, Illia said. The only exception is a small section of westbound Charleston just east of Buffalo Drive, where signs clearly indicate a drop to 35 mph because of narrow lanes.

Eye of the beholder

Susan from Las Vegas said she isn’t a fan of the head-shaped metal sculptures sitting on the divider at Eastern Avenue and the 215 Beltway.

“They are just awful,” Susan said. “Is there a meaning to them I missed?”

Art is in the eye of the beholder, Susan.

The roadside artwork by Las Vegas artist Luis Varela-Rico is called “Norte y Sur,” meaning north and south — the directions these giant, black metallic heads face at each end of the intersection.

Questions and comments should be sent to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Please include your phone number. Find @RJroadwarrior on Twitter.

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