Uber, Lyft launch without Clark County’s blessing

It’s been a long road, but ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft say they’re now up and running in Nevada — even without Clark County’s blessing.

Uber and Lyft officials announced they had launched service Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Clark County commissioners rejected the companies’ requests for a temporary business license and moved forward with crafting a local ordinance — an effort that could take weeks. Uber noted it had received state permission to operate Monday.

“We are excited to be a part of the Nevada community,” the company said in a statement, “and to offer another option for people from Henderson to North Las Vegas to Reno to connect with a safe, reliable, convenient ride at the touch of a button.”

Uber is operating in southern and northern Nevada. Lyft, the smaller of the two companies, is only in Clark County for now.

“We’ve had our eye on Las Vegas for a long time, and we’re so excited to finally be a part of the city,” Lyft officials said in a statement.

Clark County commissioners introduced a measure Tuesday that would create a special business license category for so-called transportation network companies, which allow people to hail a ride in someone’s personal car using a smartphone. Entities such as Uber and Lyft would pay a fee of $100 per driver per year to operate in unincorporated areas, or more if they want to run in the county’s incorporated cities, too.

A public hearing on the matter was scheduled for Oct. 20. Clark County officials didn’t immediately comment on the two companies flouting their local ordinance and launching immediately.

Clark County’s proposed ordinance appears to conflict with a legal opinion issued last week by lawyers with the state’s Legislative Counsel Bureau. They say Nevada laws passed this spring curb the powers of local governments in the ride-hailing realm, explicitly banning any rules and fees that apply to ride-hailing companies but not to businesses in general.

Uber briefly operated in Nevada last fall, but a judge ultimately ordered it to stop because it wasn’t abiding by the laws governing taxis and limos.

Lawmakers passed two hard-fought bills this spring that authorized the companies to operate in the state and imposed a 3 percent fare tax for taxi and ride-hailing companies.

The Nevada Transportation Authority then drafted detailed rules specific to ride-hailing companies. Among other things, the regulations that were adopted Friday call for an administrative fee to fund regulators and enforcement staff, and require a decal on cars working for ride-hailing companies.

Taxi and limo interests have fought against the new legal framework for ride-hailing companies. Among other complaints, they say the setup endangers passengers because it doesn’t require Uber or Lyft drivers to undergo the pre-employment drug screening that applies to taxi drivers.

Ride-hailing companies instead have a “zero-tolerance” drug and alcohol policy and say they suspend drivers in real-time when a passenger reports a driver who might be under the influence.

They argued that with the in-app review function, every ride serves as a sobriety test of sorts.


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