Thursday, January 21, 2016

When in Vegas....Avoid the taxis.

Whatever you do, don't take a cab if you can help it.

Las Vegas Cabs are Massively Overcharging Riders. US News And World Report

Las Vegas-area cabs are overcharging customers to the tune of $47 million a year, according to an audit released Tuesday of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, which regulates the rides in Clark County.
Auditors for the governor's finance office blamed a $3 credit card processing fee that they say is much higher than in other cities and probably shouldn't exist. They also criticized a decision to increase a fuel surcharge even as gas prices are tanking, saying having the surcharge at all is unique among the 12 major Western cities that the taxi board tracks.

For years now I've made it a practice to ignore Las Vegas taxi cabs at all costs, even buying an umbrella and walking in the rain when absolutely necessary.  When I arrive at the airport I use a hired car. Not only do they pick me up in baggage claim but, since you have them for around an hour, they'll stop by a store to let you pick up water etc. for your stay.

Getting around town I either use the bus, or just walk. You can get a 3-day transit pass in Las Vegas for $20/person. The Deuce route alone will take you pretty much everywhere you need to go.

If you do need to take a taxi then Google Map the shortest route to where you're wanting to go in advance, and ensure that the taxi driver understands very clearly where it is you are going. Pay cash whenever possible (don't pay that credit card fee). 

If you have to take a taxi from the airport it is NOT OK if they ask you to take the Freeway. You're being long-hauled which will cost you $10-$20 more.

Also of interest, was this:

Auditors were so critical of the Nevada Taxicab Authority that they recommended abolishing it and turning over its duties to another agency.
Ron Grogan, chief of the authority, said the taxi board would have to discuss the recommendations before making changes. But he acknowledged that his agency had probably outlasted its usefulness and struggled amid complex regulations.

You almost never hear a bureaucrat admit that their agency is a drain on taxpayers and worthless. Credit to Mr. Grogan for admitting the incompetence that his organization is exhibiting.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Las Vegas and Light Rail: A Rush to World Classiness.

As a Houston Resident, I've seen all of this play out before.

A group of local Dims look around and realize that other cities have something. This is met by shrieks and gasps from those who care about World Classiness, more locals repeat the same arguments as fact (despite the fact their claims are wholly unsupported) and Bingo, an instant, ready made, transportation challenge that can only be filled by very expensive, taxpayer-funded light rail.

Now, the local media jumps on board, making it obvious that any coverage in their rag is going to be slanted toward the idea of light rail and any opposition to it will find their voices muted. This is not media, it's advocacy.  The Las Vegas Sun should be required to register as a lobbyist.

But, it won't.

And light rail in Las Vegas is going to happen, because in today's society bad ideas never truly die. The supporters of light-rail, and of expanding government are much, much more dedicated than those against. They do not stop, they will not accept no for an answer.

They will persist despite the fact that cost/ridership projections will be shown to be impossible to attain, that problems with construction will threaten to put small businesses out of business altogether and reams of data will show that this light rail system will do nothing to prevent congestion or alleviate Las Vegas traffic problem.

It won't foster the sense of community that many are so desperately yearning for and it won't move Las Vegas away from the automobile as a primary means of transportation.  Even worse, it won't go where the pie-in-the-sky New Urbanists in Las Vegas want it to go. 

Instead, this is Las Vegas. It's going to run from the airport to the Strip, and will probably have as it's terminus something close to Freemont street. There will be calls for it to service neighborhoods and "connect people" but all it will end up doing is more efficiently connect casinos to gambler's money.

Oh sure, the taxi lobby will complain but, let's be clear here, they have brought this upon themselves due to their inability to rid Las Vegas of the practice of long-hauling. That's why people want Uber and it's why the once-powerful Las Vegas taxicab is taking a back seat.

These things are going to happen because that's how light rail works. It's never been about moving people or building communities. What it has always been is a way for rich folks to travel to bars and other recreational areas without having to hop on busses with the poor.

Viva Las Vegas.