Taxicab authority will explore parallel routes in Las Vegas

If time is money, then the local taxicab industry is poised to take a small but significant step on Thursday.

The Nevada Taxicab Authority is expected to finally decide whether to test out parallel routes along Frank Sinatra Drive, Koval Lane and Interstate 15 that cabbies could use when Las Vegas Boulevard is congested.

It’s a practical move toward modernizing an industry that’s suffered steep declines in ridership and revenue amid the rise of ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft over the past two years.

Under a state law approved in 1977, taxicab drivers are required to take the shortest possible route to avoid accusations of taking a longer route than necessary in a practice known as long-hauling. Drivers can only use alternate routes if their passengers approve.

State lawmakers are considering whether to update that 40-year-old law by allowing the Taxicab Authority to designate parallel routes that drivers could use without being accused of cheating passengers.

Red brake lights line the Strip on a typical Friday or Saturday night. The rule under consideration on Thursday would allow a cabbie to avoid that congestion by taking an alternate route just a block or two away.

Cab companies belonging to the Livery Operators Association recently tested alternate routes between Strip and downtown hotels during the midday and evening commutes. The results show passengers could save time or money by avoiding the Strip. Other times, it comes out even.

For example, a midday drive from Mandalay Bay to the Downtown Grand by way of Frank Sinatra Drive would shave off nine minutes and save $2.37 compared with traveling on the Strip, the association reported. Taking Koval Lane from the MGM Grand to the Wynn cost the same price and took the same amount of time as the Strip.

Last month, the Taxicab Authority said it would fact-check the association’s findings. One part of the solution may be resolved this week, albeit temporarily.

Moving forward, Southern Nevada’s taxi industry should shift its focus to long-hauling complaints by locals and tourists catching a ride from McCarran International Airport.

Border signal

Jackie from North Las Vegas wanted to know whether traffic signals will be installed at Decatur Boulevard and Grand Teton Drive, which is near three schools and typically backs up with some pretty nasty congestion.

“Children walk to school and this is a very dangerous intersection,” Jackie wrote in an email. “People do not respect the stop signs and we’re very concerned.”

North Las Vegas city officials are considering a signal for this intersection, but it might take some time and effort to get it done, city spokeswoman Delen Goldberg said. That’s because Decatur delineates the border between Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, meaning the two cities will have to coordinate on the project.

Left-turn extension

Brian from northwest Las Vegas wanted to know whether the left-turn lanes on Rancho Road could be extended to accommodate additional cars at Rainbow Boulevard and Lone Mountain Road.

No improvements are planned, but those areas will be studied for possible future upgrades, said Tony Illia, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Signal study

Shea from Henderson wanted to know whether traffic signals will be installed at Wigwam Parkway and Arroyo Grande Boulevard, which is currently equipped with four-way stop signs.

A consultant is evaluating and designing a wider area, and this intersection will be part of the larger Arroyo Grande pavement rehabilitation project, Henderson spokeswoman Kim Becker said. Construction is expected to start sometime in the fall.

Cactus widening

With the recent construction of the Cactus Avenue overpass at Interstate 15 in the southern end of the valley, David wanted to know whether the street will be widened past Las Vegas Boulevard, headed east.

Clark County officials are still acquiring the right-of-way access needed to widen Cactus between Las Vegas Boulevard and Spencer Street, county spokesman Dan Kulin said.

Flashing arrow

Jon, also from the south valley, wanted to know whether the county plans to use flashing yellow arrows for the traffic signal at Gilespie Street and Silverado Ranch Boulevard.

“Most times, there is no oncoming traffic and a left turn could be safely executed without waiting for the light to completely cycle through,” Jon wrote in an email.

The county will study to see if a flashing yellow arrow would be appropriate there, Kulin said.

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

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