Nevada officials must be exceptionally protective of the state’s image. Las Vegas, especially, is a global tourist destination. Dumb policies and practices lead to bad visitor experiences, which hurt the Nevada brand.
But the state, in trying to be protective, is supporting protectionism — and appearing downright thuggish — by cracking down on globally popular ride-sharing service Uber.
San Francisco-based Uber matches drivers willing to take passengers with people who need a lift, through a smartphone app — at prices well below what taxicabs charge. People are using it across America and in 45 other countries. The company attempted to launch operations in Las Vegas and Reno on Friday, but state transit regulators swooped in and aggressively cited drivers, impounding their vehicles. Some state officers, who work undercover, wore ski masks while busting Uber drivers on the grounds that they’re illegal operators.
Nevada’s shortsighted fight against Uber is making the state look bad. Nevada invites young, tech-savvy visitors from all over the world, and covets high-tech companies as part of its economic diversification campaign. Yet the state insists on making those visitors wait for overpriced cab rides when they’d prefer a faster, cheaper ride-sharing service. And local cabs provide notoriously poor service to locals, too, especially in far-away and low-income neighborhoods.
The longer Nevada keeps ride-sharing services out of the state, the more backward it looks. Uber has a hearing today before District Judge Douglas Herndon to determine whether the company can operate in Southern Nevada. Uber isn’t a cab company — it’s proof that competition and innovation can reinvent industry. Here’s hoping Judge Herndon agrees and tells the state to back off. The Nevada brand needs a lift.