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Richard N. Velotta
 

Clark County backs off on requiring list of ride-sharing drivers

2 December 2015

Clark County commissioners backed off from their previous stance on how they monitor contracted ride-hailing company drivers, killing a proposal to require companies to provide a list of drivers.

Commissioners voted Tuesday to strike a requirement that transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft provide a monthly report to the Business Licensing Department listing the name and identification or driver number of each person registered with a company to ensure that all drivers are properly licensed.

Without such a list, county officials will be handicapped in their ability to monitor whether active drivers are licensed, Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak said after the vote.

The county's ordinance also requires transportation network companies to terminate drivers' access to the company's platform if they fail to obtain a license.

Left intact is a requirement that individual drivers acquire a $25 business license annually.

Tuesday's action puts the ball in Uber's court as to whether it opts to serve McCarran International Airport, which is allowed to collect $2.45 per pickup or drop-off there.

Uber officials had no comment Tuesday on its future plans at the airport, but indicated they expect negotiations with McCarran to continue.

The company had encouraged a pressure campaign on commissioners from their customers to relax regulations on airport service. As it stands, Uber is allowed to legally serve the airport if licensed, but so far the company hasn't completed the process. Company officials have stated publicly that the company doesn't intend to provide a list of drivers to McCarran.

Uber officials also have said they believe the number of vehicles the company expects to have on the road would be too great for the airport's geofencing system to monitor, a claim McCarran officials deny.

Uber rival Lyft operates at McCarran and Clark County Aviation Department Director Rosemary Vassiliadis said the operation is running smoothly.

Commissioners again expressed frustration with Uber and the state legislation that enabled transportation network companies to begin operations earlier this year.

"They (Uber) have used the statute as a shield to prevent our efforts to address public safety concerns," said Commissioner Larry Brown.

Sisolak, Brown and Commissioner Lawrence Weekly hinted that they expect the county would take concerns to the 2017 legislative session.

Sisolak also noted that questions have been raised about the legality of Uber drivers in vehicles with out-of-state license plates and Commissioner Susan Brager questioned whether transportation network companies are properly insured. Uber and Lyft officials have said drivers are adequately insured, both when they have passengers onboard or when they're awaiting a hail while on the smartphone platform.

Vassiliadis said until Uber is licensed by the county, its drivers would continue to be cited for operating on airport grounds.

She said since August, when some drivers first began operating, 1,800 citations have been issued by airport enforcement officers. Of those, 1,575 were issued to Uber drivers. She said about 80 percent of those citations have been paid within 10 days of issuance, meaning that the cited driver would only be required to pay half of the $100 fine.

A taxi industry representative made a last-ditch effort to appeal to commissioners on toughening regulations.

Attorneys John Mowbray and former Sen. Richard Bryan appeared on behalf of Frias Transportation, the largest taxi group operating in Clark County, and warned commissioners that without having the identification of transportation network drivers, cab drivers could moonlight for a ride-hailing company and drive more than 12 hours a day.

Cab drivers are restricted from driving more than 12 hours a day for their companies. But since the rules are separate, a driver could hypothetically drive 12 hours in a cab and then more as a contracted ride-hailing driver.