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Alan Snel

Uber, Lyft could operate in Las Vegas by end of summer

26 June 2015

Expect ride-hailing vehicles on the streets of Las Vegas around Labor Day.

It appears that it will take the state about two months to draft new ride-hailing regulations, stage workshops on the new rules, fine-tune the standards and ultimately adopt them. If that’s the case, the likes of Uber and Lyft could be chauffeuring riders around Las Vegas and Reno by early September.

The Nevada Transportation Authority, charged with shepherding this rule-crafting process for this new ride-hailing industry, on Thursday approved emergency regulations that were limited to the application process to comply with the recently approved state bill. The legislation signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval authorizes a service that connects passengers with drivers through smartphone apps.

The three-member transportation authority will meet again Monday to discuss applications and there’s a chance that a ride-hailing company could submit an application as early as Monday afternoon. But then, at least two workshops will have to be scheduled and staged to discuss the industry rules in the upcoming weeks.

“I won’t sacrifice public safety for expediency,” Transportation Authority commissioner George Assad told about 35 people packed in a small meeting room at the authority office in Las Vegas.

Steve Thompson, general manager for Uber Nevada, refused to comment after the meeting, saying San Francisco-based Uber will email a statement. Taylor Patterson of Uber sent an email, attributing to Thompson this statement: “Nevadans are demanding more transportation options and economic opportunities in their state. Uber is working with the NTA to approve regulations to bring Uber back to Nevada as soon as possible.”

Chelsea Wilson, a spokesperson for San Francisco-based Lyft, said it would take about two months to begin service and that the company looks forward to working with the state to craft the new industry rules.

The authority meeting, jointly held in Reno, attracted five speakers between the two cities.

One of the speakers, Tony Clark, owner of 24/7 Limousines, said after the meeting that he has accepted that Uber will operate in Nevada, but he was concerned that Uber drivers would pick up passengers through illegal street-hailing and the customers would not be covered by appropriate insurance.

Clark and others can attend workshops to add their comments. On July 1, the authority is prepared to schedule two workshop and each workshop requires a 15-day advance notice.

Clark noted the state will have to spend more money to regulate the added ride-hailing industry.

A cab driver, Alfredo Sardinas, told the authority that he did not oppose the new ride-hailing businesses and that taxi drivers are forced to drive 12-hour shifts.

“Uber is a necessity,” he said.

After the meeting, Uber’s Thompson thanked Sardinas for his testimony before the authority.

Monday’s Nevada Transportation Authority meeting on the application issue is scheduled for 9 a.m. at 2290 S. Jones Blvd., Suite 110.