Further cuts to come for taxi authorities, as decline in journeys blamed on pandemic, ridesharing apps
Between the proliferation of ridesharing apps like Uber and Lyft and the COVID-19 pandemic, taxi rides in Clark County have gone from precipitous decline to falling off a cliff.
Steep drop in taxi rides – double-digit annual decline over the past six years, culminating with a 62% drop in revenue in fiscal 2021 – is bad news for the state’s Taxicab Authority, widely fee-funded, which oversees and regulates the industry in Clark County (taxi operations in other counties are overseen by the Nevada Transportation Authority).
In a budget closing meeting on Thursday evening, lawmakers pre-approved the removal of two vacant positions (a dispatcher and a vehicle inspector) and the transfer of a vacant IT position to help the authority remain financially viable. throughout the next budget cycle – although the Taxi Authority has warned the legislative budget. staff that “further reductions in their operating expenses in the form of staff reductions would affect the agency’s ability to perform the three main public safety functions of licensing, vehicle inspection and law enforcement.
The proposed job cuts and transfers come after state lawmakers in 2019 approved the elimination of 15 positions in the agency and the increase in the annual fee charged on individual taxis from $ 100 to $ 300 per year – all as part of an effort to reinforce the agency’s financial deterioration. status. The agency also reduced law enforcement hours from 24 hours a day to 18 hours a day, starting in 2019 as well.
The decrease in cab rides is largely attributed to state lawmakers who approved ride-sharing apps (Uber, Lyft) to work during the 2015 session. The total number of cab rides in Clark County has steadily declined from over $ 25 million (and $ 5 million in tax revenue) in fiscal 2016 to just $ 10 million (and $ 2 million in tax revenue) in fiscal 2020 – with expectations in 2021. will see fewer than 4 million rides amid the COVID pandemic.
Much of the blame for the recent drop in rides is, naturally, attributed to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Authority chief Stan Olsen recently told the Las Vegas Sun that the pandemic is “the most devastating impact the taxi industry has ever faced”.
The authority predicts that the rides will recover with the state’s economy, to around 11.5 million per year starting in fiscal 2022 – while noting that around 14 million rides per year are needed to ensure financial solvency.
â(T) he agency believes that if budget deficits persisted, the Taxi Authority would not be able to find its way to financial solvency, as this would have an impact on the agency’s ability to perform its functions required, âthe legislative finance staff wrote in a budget closing document.
Lawmakers also requested that the authority submit a letter of intent focused on a “credible long-term solvency plan” to lawmakers ahead of their June 2022 interim financial meeting.
Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter devoted to comprehensive coverage of the 2021 Legislative Assembly. ‘information here.