Las Vegas taxi rides dip, but companies ring up more money per ride

Clark County’s taxi industry had its largest January percentage decline in monthly cab trips since the Great Recession but 15 of the 16 local companies still made more money per ride for the month than they did a year ago.

The Nevada Taxicab Authority reported this week that cab trips were down 13.5 percent to 2.1 million rides for the month.

Industry watchers suspect the decline is the result of the arrival of ride-hailing companies to the market. Uber and Lyft began serving Las Vegas in September.

January generally is one of the most lucrative months for the cab industry because of the spillover from the New Year’s Eve holiday and the arrival of several large conventions, including CES, during the month.

Uber and Lyft aren’t required by the Nevada Transportation Authority to provide ridership statistics to the public. It’s believed that ride-sharing companies got a big boost from CES because show management had been a strong advocate for the companies when they sought to be licensed and convention speakers noted their availability during the four-day event.

The January decline in taxi trips was the largest since 2009 when trips were down 15.5 percent from the previous year. The 2016 decline occurred after two consecutive January increases in 2014 and 2015.

The taxi industry was down from January 2015 by 325,709 rides, the Taxicab Authority reported, but revenue per trip climbed 7 percent to $16.16, thanks to rate increases the authority board approved last summer.

The industry also benefited from policy changes implemented by the authority, allowing cabs that had been time- or geographically restricted to serve the entire Las Vegas Valley at all hours.

The two companies that benefited most from the lifting of the geographical restrictions, A-Cab and Deluxe, were the only two companies that had an increase in monthly trips in January. Prior to the Taxicab Authority’s policy change, A-Cab and Deluxe, two of the three smallest companies in operation, could not pick up passengers on the Strip, McCarran International Airport or at the city’s convention centers.

Deluxe, the smallest cab company operating in Southern Nevada, saw the number of monthly trips soar 35.7 percent to 39,075 rides in January while A-Cab, based in the Summerlin area, was up 13.8 percent to 67,157 rides.

Another strategy the cab industry has pursued is flooding the market with cabs to compete with the high number of Uber and Lyft drivers, believed to be at more than 11,000 in Southern Nevada.

In January, the cab industry had 3,370 medallions, or licenses, operating in Las Vegas, 37.5 percent more than the 2,450 existing in January 2015.

Cab drivers have pleaded with the authority board to limit the number of cabs on the street because the high number of cabs means fewer rides per driver and most say they struggle to maintain a decent wage between the larger number of cabs and the competitive pressure of Uber and Lyft.

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

 

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