Lawmakers say a fight between Nevada’s taxicab industry and Uber, the ride hailing company that operated in the state this fall before a court decision prompted it to shut down, could be the biggest transportation issue this session in the Nevada Legislature.
Republican Jim Wheeler, chair of the Assembly transportation committee, said he hasn’t seen any proposed legislation on the matter but has met with representatives on both sides.
Uber spokeswoman Eva Behrend declined to confirm whether Uber was meeting with lawmakers, but said the San Francisco-based company that operates in dozens of cities has its sights on rebounding from its Silver State setback.
“We remain committed to working to get Uber back in Nevada,” Behrend said.
Uber allows people to hail a car using their smartphone. Drivers use their personal vehicles and often ferry passengers around as a side job.
The taxicab industry says Uber skirts the heavy regulations cabs must follow and puts passengers at risk. But Uber describes itself as a technology company rather than a transportation company and says it shouldn’t be governed by the rules of the traditional taxi model.
“What they’re saying is ‘You have to look at us a different way,’ and the reality is you have to because Uber covers two to three types of different industries,” said Republican Scott Hammond, who chairs the Assembly transportation committee and has also met with both sides. “However, just because you cover two to three types of industries doesn’t mean you should not be regulated.”
Wheeler said he admires Uber’s innovation and is open to solutions that would allow taxis and ride hailing services to coexist.
“If you’ve got a better mousetrap and want to come in and compete with an existing company, God bless you, but it has to be an even playing field,” Wheeler said. “Taxi companies have a ton of regulations so maybe we need to lower some of those while adding a few to Uber — I’m open to discussing anything.”