Taxicab Authority OKs more cabs for Pacquiao fight weekend

Las Vegas Sun File

Taxis wait at “the pit” for fares at McCarran International Airport. At any time, there are about 2,000 cabs on Las Vegas streets.

VEGAS INC coverage

The Nevada Taxicab Authority on Tuesday approved up to 80 additional cabs on city streets for the weekend of the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosely boxing match at the MGM Grand.

It’s the first time the five-member board that regulates Clark County’s taxi industry has allocated additional cabs for a fight night. Frias Cab Co. made the request to add up to five more cabs May 6-8 for each of the 16 companies operating in the county.

The board was swayed by the argument that the fight is running the same night as the Monster Energy Supercross motorcycle event at Sam Boyd Stadium and that additional cabs would be needed to accommodate crowds at both events.

The typical allocation battle lines were in place for the decision. Taxi company owners uniformly backed the request, but unions representing cab drivers opposed it. In most allocation requests, company owners view placing additional cabs in the field as an opportunity to generate more revenue while drivers see it as each driver making less money, because they have to split the number of rides generated more ways and the traffic tends to result in fewer rides per cab.

Neal Tomlinson, a lawyer representing Frias, told the board that while the MGM Grand Garden Arena would seat about 18,000 people, Pacquiao has a loyal following and that more people would be expected in town for the fight.

But Chaz Rainey, representing the Industrial Technical Professional Employees union, called it “a nonsensical request” and said most fight fans either would have their own vehicles in town or would stay in hotels close enough to the MGM to walk to the venue. He added that approving the allocation request would set a bad precedent.

George Balaban, who heads Desert Cab Co., said the request for additional cabs wasn’t just about fight night and that fans in town for the fight or the Supercross event would need rides to restaurants and other locations during their stay in Las Vegas.

The Taxicab Authority staff, however, noted that most of the major hotels along the Strip aren’t booked to capacity yet and the fight is just over a week away.

The authority board also approved in a 3-1 vote an allocation of up to 80 additional cabs — five per company — from May 8-12 for four conventions that would have total attendance close to 65,000 people.

The National Hardware Show 2011 at the Las Vegas Convention Center May 10-12 is expected to have attendance of 31,000 people. Interop Las Vegas 2011, a technology show at Mandalay Bay, runs May 8-12 and is expecting 18,000 attendees. The Money Show 2011 at Caesars Palace and EMC World, a technology show at the Venetian, are both scheduled May 9-12 with attendance of 8,000 people each.

Authority board member Joe Hardy was unconvinced that there was a need for additional cabs during the shows and voted against the allocation.

In other business, the board discussed submitting legislation that would increase the fine for long-hauling, the illegal practice of a cab driver taking a passenger a longer route to a destination without permission.

Current penalties include a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, $200 anda three-day suspension for the second, $300 and a six-day suspension for a third and $500 and a license revocation for a fourth.

Some cab companies have more severe penalties if they catch their drivers long-hauling customers.

Cab company owners suggested increasing the fine to $500 for the first offense.

But some drivers have maintained that they are under pressure to increase fare revenue because of quotas established by cab companies and are driven to long-haul customers to reach those amounts.

Knowing that it’s too late in this year’s legislative process for the Taxicab Authority to have higher fines set by law, the board agreed to assign the task to its new administrator, Charles Harvey, who won’t begin his new job until May 9.

That means updating long-haul legislation probably won’t occur until the 2013 legislative session.

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