JoAnna Haugen
JoAnna Haugen

InsightA recent report from the audit division of the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau estimated that 22.5% of taxicab trips from McCarran Airport in Las Vegas in 2013 were illegal long-hauls — rides that took passengers on a longer-than-necessary route — and those “scenic route” trips resulted in travelers being overcharged by $14.8 million over the course of the year.

Under Nevada law, cabbies must take the most direct route to a passenger’s destination, unless the passenger specifies otherwise. If no discussion of the route occurs or the passenger verbally states he wants to take the shortest route, the driver is breaking the law if he takes any other route than the most direct one based on the actual distance, said Teri Williams, public information offers for the Nevada State Department of Business & Industry.

JoAnnaHaugenHowever, when passengers request that drivers take the fastest route or otherwise indicate they have no preference about the route, drivers may make the choice of which route to take based on traffic patterns and other potential delays in traffic. It is worth noting that the audit did not differentiate between those passengers who were intentionally taken on a long-haul and those who requested to take the fastest route or left the option up to the driver. Because travel times and the resulting fares vary based on time of day, day of the week, destination, weather, road conditions and traffic, sometimes the longest route really is the fastest route.

Nonetheless, long-hauling is a legitimate problem that the Nevada Taxicab Authority acknowledges, and passengers need to be well informed about their options.

Travelers need to be their own advocates when they prepare to take a taxi from McCarran to their final destination in or around Sin City, and being knowledgeable about the routes and options plays a big part in that advocacy. “Generally, if a passenger wants to pay the lowest fare for travel to their destination, they should tell the driver to take the shortest route,” Williams said. “However, they should be aware that if there are major construction delays, heavy traffic or an accident on that route, their fare may deviate from the published approximate rate because of the way fares are calculated.”

Passengers should consult this guide published by the taxi authority that provides fare approximations from the airport to specific Strip and downtown properties: An average fare from McCarran to the center of the Strip, home to Bally’s, the Cosmopolitan, Caesars Palace and the Flamingo, should run between $14 and $19, for example.

If a client feels they have been the victim of a long-haul, they should file a complaint by calling the Nevada Taxicab Authority at (702) 668-4005, emailing [email protected] or downloading a complaint form from the website at www.taxi.nv.gov.

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