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Call for prospective Uber drivers creates traffic jam — PHOTOS

Prospective Uber drivers got their first road tutorials Thursday — how to maneuver through heavy traffic in a tight parking lot.

And that was just to get to the briefings and question-and-answer sessions.

Hundreds of people who hope to drive for the San Francisco-based ride-hailing company caused periodic traffic jams at the Hampton Inn Tropicana on Dean Martin Drive on the second of nine days of information sessions designed to assemble a fleet of driver partners.

Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend said Thursday that the sessions are to prepare for the company’s partner drivers to start transporting customers that hail them through a smartphone application.

“It’s a chance to answer questions in person and explain the regulatory framework,” she said.

Behrend said because transportation network companies are new to the state, many of the questions prospective drivers have are about how the Uber app works.

But Behrend said there’s much more to it.

The company must run background checks on prospective drivers — controversial in that critics believe they aren’t as thorough as FBI checks that drivers of other transportation systems are required to have. They also must get their vehicles inspected and prove they have a higher level of car insurance than a standard policy.

Behrend said a third party, a company called Tire Kickers, is conducting vehicle inspections during the information sessions at the Hampton Inn, which are scheduled Friday and Tuesday through Sept. 11 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Behrend recommends that prospective drivers first sign up with the company at its website before coming to an information session.

In a related matter, Clark County Business License Director Jacqueline Holloway clarified that it’s transportation network companies, not their drivers, that would have to secure a business license to operate in the county.

Two key actions must occur before Uber and its smaller rival, Lyft, can operate locally.

The Nevada Transportation Authority has posted a notice of intent to act upon a regulation and a notice of hearing for the adoption of regulations scheduled Sept. 11 at 9 a.m. The meeting will be teleconferenced to the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas.

Once regulations are in place, Clark County will be able to draft an ordinance on securing a business license for a transportation network company. Under the county’s timeline, the ordinance would be introduced Sept. 15, debated in a public hearing and considered on Oct. 20 with permits granted by Nov. 3.

In an email, Holloway said operating without a business license is a misdemeanor and temporary licensing is only available for established business categories, which precludes transportation network companies from eligibility.

Neither Uber or Lyft have announced a projected start-up date, but both are preparing to begin operations as soon as they can.

Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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