Nevada taxi cartel teams with regulators, attorney general to shoot down Uber launch

HITTING THE BRAKES ON UBER: Nevada Taxicab Authority officials have cited Uber drivers and the AG obtained a court order to stop the company from offering its innovative service in Nevada.

By Michael Chamberlain | WatchdogWire.com

Within hours of Uber’s Friday rollout in Nevada, Nevada Taxicab Authority officials were citing its drivers and impounding their cars as state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting the service from offering rides in Nevada.

On Friday afternoon, at least five drivers — four in Las Vegas and one in Reno — had been cited by regulators, according to Teri Williams, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Business and Industry. Those drivers face fines of up to $10,000, Williams said.

Uniformed officers were at the Fashion Show mall on the Strip late Friday to meet Uber driver Michael Elsner with a ticket.

Five unmarked white Nevada Taxicab Authority vehicles surrounded his blue Ford Focus as he was driving east on Fashion Show Drive about 3:30 p.m. He was pulled over while trying to drop off two passengers. Two undercover officers wore black ski masks.

More recent news reports indicate that two Uber drivers in Reno and eight in Las Vegas were cited and their vehicles impounded on Friday. Nevada’s transportation laws have been termed the “very worst” in the nation for their anti-competitive nature.

Geoffrey Lawrence, director of research and legislative affairs at the Nevada Policy Research Institute, said, “There’s a reason Uber has been successful despite the many legal hurdles the firm has faced in different markets — consumers value the service Uber provides.”

The legal protections given the taxi industry, Lawrence stated in an email, have “been more stringent in Las Vegas than in most cities because industry insiders had lobbied for a regulatory structure that requires all prospective competitors demonstrate both that a public need exists for their services and that they would not take business away from any existing taxi company. That kind of regulatory structure is as anti-capitalist as it gets.”

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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