As We See It

An Uber alternative? Ride Genie is here, and it’s … clunky

App judgment: Ride Genie might get better, but for now it has issues.
Julie Jacobson/AP

Uber isn’t legal in Nevada, but as of March 23, there’s supposedly a new way to hail a cab from anywhere in the Valley. It’s called Ride Genie, and it’s promoted by the Nevada taxi companies as an alternative to the controversial but convenient San Francisco-built app Uber. The thing is, Ride Genie doesn’t always work. The free smartphone download opens to show a real-time swarm of black vehicle icons hovering on the Strip—but that doesn’t mean the cabs will come when hailed.

A recent request to take a $13 cab ride from the Weekly’s office to a restaurant three miles away was initially accepted by a driver but quickly canceled, and a subsequent search returned a message saying the vehicle type was unavailable. There were options to request a sedan for $53, an SUV for $58 or a limo for $63, but the price didn’t seem worth it for a lunch excursion. Two additional requests to travel within Henderson also failed. At this point, it was time for Plan B.

Granted, it’s a new app and improvements are likely in the works, but the experience is clunky. Ride Genie’s credit card scan only picks up the card number, leaving the user to type in name, expiration and CVV code. Once registered, pick-up location is automatically detected, but drop-off location is filled with the same address, and the app will allow the “ride” to be hailed, essentially charging the customer $4 plus fees to pass through a taxi’s backseat while parked. And the map search doesn’t recognize business names, so riders must Google exact addresses outside the app.

While app-assisted cab-hailing might work better in areas like Downtown or the Strip, that doesn’t help those in the suburbs. Perhaps that’s why businesspeople with Henderson’s Chamber of Commerce recently voiced support for Uber in Nevada, and Sen. James Settelmeyer of Minden is working to introduce a pro-Uber bill during the 2015 Legislature. Not surprisingly, transportation organizations like the Livery Operators Association oppose Uber for trying to dodge bureaucratic oversight.

With urging from Uber lobbyists, it’s possible a bill could emerge and pass this session. Until then, or until Ride Genie ups its game, sorry, suburbanites.

Tags: Opinion
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