So Long Cabbies, I’ll Find My Own Lyft (Or Uber)
One of the reasons I’ve preferred for years to drive myself to Las Vegas rather than taking a cheap flight is the fact that I’d prefer to spend my bankroll on the goodies and not in town transport. That’s not to say that grabbing an occasional taxi was a bad thing. I mean sure, there was always the nasty glance I’d get if the driver thought I was short-hauling him (for which, even if that was the case I tipped well) but overall it just seemed like the cab culture was too expensive and too controlled against the consumer. Vegas cab companies liked the grip they had on you, and I didn’t like shelling out hundreds on cabs that could have been better spent elsewhere.
All of that changed however before my most recent two trips. Finally, and after much legal and political wrangling, Uber, Lyft, and other ride share companies are able to operate both on and off the strip and at McCarran. I discovered this, much to my pleasure, when I arrived via my plane for my trip in December. Armed with my phone I had summoned a car to a designated area just off the terminal by the time I had my bag. The driver was polite and quickly got me to the SLS with none of the usual fare-extending trickery. It was a revelation…no fumbling for cash, no calculating a tip to please a possibly pissed off driver. Just a straight forward way of getting around.
It was no surprise on my latest trip, where I was once again saddled without my car, that I decided to give a more broad test to the ride sharing economy as opposed to cabs. Armed with the knowledge I had gotten from a driver who worked for both Uber and Lyft, another ride share service, that Lyft would give you discounted rides when you first signed up, I threw the app and account on my phone and used Lyft for all of my movements throughout Vegas on my latest trip. Staying off strip (more about that in an upcoming review) made one thing necessary, hired transit.
And Lyft did not fail me. In all of the rides taken to and from the strip and downtown, none were more than 15 dollars (most often less than 5 when taking the discounted Lyft sign up fee into account). And unlike Uber, I could actually tip and rate my drivers in such a way that made me feel good about rewarding drivers with personality and efficiency. In a town where I had once or twice feared for my life over a pissed off cabbie who I still had to pay over 20 bucks, needless to say it was a revelation.
One thing I will note is that even though they aren’t always directly advertised, all of the major hotels do have drop off and pick up locations for the ride sharing services, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask around. Usual waits for a car were less than 5 minutes for the entirety of my trip, so with planning it’s just as doable as a long wait at a taxi queue. And not having to fumble for cash or a card is so much better than worrying about losing a wallet in a cab. So that said, cabs should be worried and get their act together. Uber and Lyft have definitely changed the way I will travel when in Vegas, and competition in that arena is definitely a good thing.