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John L. Smith: Taxis Taking A New Path To The Strip


Associated Press

New flat rates for taxis driving from McCarran International Airport to the Strip were just approved by the Nevada Taxicab Authority.

For riders, this could end the fear that they are being "long-hauled," or taken on a longer route than necessary to increase the cost of the ride--and the profit to the cab driver.

The change is seen as a move to compete with rideshares like Lyft and Uber, who tell riders upfront what their cost will be.

“What they’re basically doing is, essentially, a pilot program that’s going to start at the beginning of next year," John L. Smith said, "And it is part of the Taxi Cab Authority board and Scott Whittemore, who leads that effort to really streamline and rethink the cab industry.”

Smith believes it is a smart move by the cab industry as a way to compete with Uber and Lyft. 


“I certainly think they care about it politically,” Smith said of the Democratic hopefuls that have spoken about the topic.

“The Republicans, in my estimation, have done a better job of turning this into an issue that separated them from Democrats,” he said.

Smith noted the Democrats have taken the side of conservationists and environmentalists when it comes to the public land debate. But he believes it would benefit some candidates to weigh in on issues that concern users of the land like outdoor enthusiasts and hunters.

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The long-time journalist also believes Democrats need to acknowledge that releasing public land to developers can be a good idea, for instance, to address affordable housing issues in Reno and Las Vegas.

“There are ways that the Democrats could actually chime in and sound more informed,” he said.

Smith said presidential hopefuls Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, and Senator Elizabeth Warren have both released plans addressing some of the issues surrounding public lands.

President Donald Trump has put his stamp on the issue, Smith said.

“He’s been successful in deregulating environmental law. For his constituency, for the oil and gas industry, it’s been a boon for them,” he said.

And while some ranchers and mining industry people have cheered moves by the Trump administration, Smith advises them to take a look at deregulation moves made in the Reagan era.

“I think that they’ve cheered some of the changes; however, if we can look back at that Reagan era, a lot of the changes that occurred long term did not help the small rancher. It helped big ranchers,” he said.

Smith noted that while people on the Cliven Bundy, small rancher side of the spectrum might cheer the idea of less regulation and getting the government off 'their land' it may not be the boon to their business as they expect.

Smith said he's talked to a variety of ranchers from around the state during his years as a journalist and there is a variety of opinions among the industry.

“There are folks who consider themselves conservationists and real shepherds of the land itself. They’re not out expanding their grazing rights. They understand the BLM has a role and the Forest Service has a role in their lives,” he said, but on the other hand, “You also have some other ranchers who are certainly more hardcore, true believers that they’re not only shepherds of the land but this land is theirs and they’re going to fight to keep it and that the federal government should have no role in ‘ownership’ of land in Nevada.”


John L. Smith, commentator/contributor, Nevada Public Radio

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