In Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, and dozens of other U.S. cities -- even small ones like Green Bay, WI, and Toledo, OH -- meeting attendees in need of transportation can pull out their smartphone and hail a ride. Quickly, cheaply, and conveniently. In the nation's top convention destination, however, mobile devices have heretofore been powerless, leaving many attendees stranded -- taxi-less -- at hotels, casinos, and conventions.
That finally changed yesterday when the Nevada Transportation Authority granted permits to ridesharing apps Uber and Lyft, allowing them to operate legally in the "Silver State."
"Yesterday, we were officially permitted to operate by the State of Nevada by the Nevada Transportation Authority, and now we are live!" Uber said in a statement yesterday. "We are excited to be a part of the Nevada community 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."
Echoed Lyft, "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. There's no shortage of incredible things to see in Vegas, like famous pop divas, title fights, the Neon Museum. The list goes on. And now, Lyft is ready to make sure you can get to every last one, easily and affordably."
Ridesharing first arrived in Las Vegas in October 2014, when Uber initially commenced service there. A month later, however, a Nevada judge approved an injunction prohibiting Uber and its competitors from operating in the state due to regulatory and safety concerns. The injunction also was a capitulation to taxi drivers, who say companies like Uber and Lyft infringe on their rights and have an unfair competitive advantage, since they in many jurisdictions aren't subject to the same regulations and oversight.
In May, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval simultaneously addressed and dismissed those concerns by signing legislation that gives ridesharing apps permission to operate in Nevada, but subjects them to state oversight and regulation. Uber and Lyft spent the summer traversing the new regulatory requirements; having received their permits, however, they are now officially taking riders.
For now, Lyft is operating only in Las Vegas, while Uber is in both Las Vegas and Reno. The latter is offering its lowest-cost UberX service -- whereby drivers pick up passengers in their own vehicles -- but soon plans to offer its SUV service, UberXL, as well.
"Tens of thousands of Nevadans demanded the return of Uber to the Silver State -- and their collective voices were heard loud and clear," Uber General Manager Steve Thompson said in May, when Uber was given the green light to return to Nevada. "Thanks to Gov. Sandoval and the bipartisan support of the Nevada Legislature, riders and drivers can … get back on the road, with greater access to transportation choices and flexible income opportunities."