A pathetic ritual

The Nevada Taxicab Authority last week approved putting from 90 to 256 extra cabs on the streets during the three-day Electric Daisy Carnival music extravaganza starting June 21 — but turned down requests for extra operating permits, called medallions, during three major events in March and April as several dozen drivers turned out for their most vocal protest in months.

The debate played out along typical lines, with angry drivers arguing as usual that authorizing extra cabs dilutes their incomes. In addition, Yellow Checker Star Transportation, the valley’s second-largest cab company, opposed more operating permits, known as medallions, except during EDC, while other companies argued for them in differing combinations.

In other words, the big company argued for less competition; the smaller competitors pleaded with government to be allowed to compete.

The extra permits for late June actually marked an upward bump from last year, when officials and cab company owners thought service was too scant in part because of the long distance between the Strip and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, EDC’s venue.

Meantime, a typical Nevada resident, calling for a cab after the family car breaks down far from home on a Saturday evening, is out of luck. The best that can be hoped for by the very people who pay the taxes to support this bureaucracy is to reach a dispatcher who’s honest enough to say, “Are you crazy? We make all our money on the Strip. A dead-head run out to Hooterville on a Saturday night? Forget about it.”

This whole ritual — political appointees deciding like Goldilocks how much competition is “just right” — is absurd. If the state sees a need to inspect taxi cabs for safety reasons, that’s fine. But it’s time to take a serious look at how more open competition can be restored to the taxi business in Nevada.

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