John L. Smith: Cabbies Need Help As Rideshares Increase

As more and more people take Uber and Lyft for rides, what’s going on with the taxi industry? Can it withstand the 40 percent drop in rides? Will a new Taxicab Authority chief help or hurt?

“That new director will basically run shotgun over an industry that is in tremendous change,” KNPR News contributor John L. Smith explained. “It’s an industry that is not only changing but was hit with a very tough audit in recent years that showed that millions of dollars in long hauling occurred.”

Long hauling is when cabbies take riders out of the way to drive up the charge, instead of taking the fastest route.

Despite those challenges, the industry remains an important one in the city. Cab drivers offer millions of rides year and are often the first people tourists meet when they arrive.

Smith says the industry is trying to improve and keep up with rideshare companies. However, much of its power has diminished in the halls of the Legislature where the cab companies once held a great deal of sway.

“I think there needs to be a new, internal leadership within the industry,” Smith said.

Union and Gaming Giants Make a Deal

Smith is happy that the Culinary Union and the major gaming companies have made a deal to avoid a strike.

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He said the Culinary Union thought out what it was going to do in the negotiations and everyone is ahead if a strike can be avoided.

The whole thing also shows that the recession is really over for the Las Vegas Strip, Smith said.

He said the Culinary Union was a "team player" during the recession and worked with the industry to survive the downturn.

He is also happy that the union addressed the problem of sexual harassment during its latest negotiation.

Smith believes it is part of an effort to create a new gaming industry in the wake of Steve Wynn's scandal and the #Metoo movement.

“I think what you have here is an opportunity for Las Vegas to kind of join the rest of the country,” he said.

The Vegas Golden Knights

“It’s been hard to watch because they’ve been getting punched around a bit – metaphorically and physically – by Washington right now,” Smith observed.

But his belief - like the rest of the city - is far from shaken.

Smith says it's incredible to watch the games and the crowds, seeing what the team has done for the community.

While the Golden Knights might not solve the valley's transportation issues or the water shortage, "it's a pretty good day when the Golden Knights are playing," he said.

And as far as a parade, Smith would like to see something - win or lose - because really 'any excuse for a party' is the city's whole marketing strategy. 



John L. Smith, KNPR contributor

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