Las Vegas Strip, McCarran Airport Illegal Rideshare Cars Impounded


Posted on: April 26, 2021, 10:30h. 

Last updated on: April 26, 2021, 10:45h.

Nevada officials have impounded 40 illegal ride-hailing cars and issued citations to drivers in recent months. Most were working the Las Vegas Strip or McCarran International Airport.

40 cars were impounded
Passengers walk to the McCarran Airport waiting area for legal rideshares in 2017. Recently, delays and driver shortages have led to illegal ride-sharing drivers working on the Las Vegas Strip and at the airport. Citations were issued. Cars were impounded. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The illegal drivers asked passengers for cash payments and did not use an app. The drivers were charged with unlawful transport. That is a violation under Clark County code.

The citations come as Las Vegas passengers face lengthy waits for legal rideshare vehicles. To take advantage of the delays and legal driver shortages, illegal drivers are providing rides at the airport or along the Strip.

Data provided to Casino.org by the Nevada Transportation Authority and the Nevada Taxicab Authority reveals that illicit drivers were cited each month since January.

In January and February, there were both five citations. There were 14 in March. In April, there were 16 as of last week. More citations are possible.

Enforcement officials have encountered drivers that are operating off-app,” Teri Williams, spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, told Casino.org. “Their enforcement efforts are largely focused on the airport and the Strip resort corridor.”

Williams warns that such drivers “caught soliciting or transporting passengers off-app will be issued a citation for up to $10,000 and their vehicle impounded, which will result in additional costs.”

This month, McCarran Airport officials tweeted reminders not to use these unlicensed rideshare cars.

In recent months with the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a shortage of Uber and Lyft drivers, according to McCarran spokesman Joe Rajchel.

Shortage of Rideshare Cars

He said airport staff increased monitoring of the rideshare areas at McCarran during peak times. The airport also posted warning signs and reminders that passengers should only accept rides they booked through Uber or Lyft apps, Rajchel said.

Unfortunately, we are seeing people looking to capitalize on the shortage of cars on the road and offer travelers rides outside of the official rideshare apps,” Rajchel told Casino.org.

One scheme employed by these illegal drivers is to claim they had a ride that was cancelled — then offer a cash ride to those in the waiting area, Rajchel told KVVU, a local TV station.

Illegal Rides Pose Safety Worries

Also, Williams called the unlawful passenger transportation a “safety concern.”

Legal drivers are required to undergo a background check, have a rideshare auto insurance policy, and undertake a basic vehicle inspection, Williams said.

Also, by using an app, passengers can verify the driver is “in good standing and is who they say they are,” Williams explained.

If drivers using rideshare apps are not available, such as Uber or Lyft, passengers should use alternate licensed transportation, such as a taxi, limo, or shuttle, Williams advised.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Las Vegas is among the US cities where there are “severe” shortages of ride-hailing services, the Financial Times reported.

Several drivers say it is due to the pay. Companies blame the delays in picking up passengers in part on the restrictions on pricing that can be charged.

It was also reported the amount paid in unemployment checks discourages former drivers from resuming work. Many former drivers also are avoiding driving passengers because they are worried about COVID-19 risk.

Since the pandemic, some drivers opted to take jobs delivering food and groceries, the Financial Times said.

As of March 30, there were 13,723 active ride-hailing drivers in Nevada, according to data published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. That compares to 36,482 on March 13, 2020.

Last week, KVVU reported only about half of the rides requested on Uber in the Las Vegas area are completed. The situation comes as the number of passengers using McCarran increases.

The airport saw 2.6 million passengers last month. That is a 25 percent jump over 2 million passengers in March 2020. It is 60 percent above 1.6 million passengers in February, 2021, the Review-Journal reported, based on Clark County Department of Aviation data.