Once again the taxi establishment set out to smear Uber and Lyft, and once again it failed. During MAGIC, Bell Transportation hired an undercover agent to solicit illegal cash rides from Uber and Lyft drivers parked outside the Las Vegas Convention Center, catching two the first night and eight the next. But is this a widespread problem or deceitful spin? Smells like the latter.
If drivers referred the investigator to the app (it’s conveniently unknown how many drivers refused cash), he told them he’d lost his phone and wallet but had cash. In that light, the rides seem compassionate, not corrupt. And though it’s true that off-platform rides disqualify riders from coverage by Uber and Lyft’s insurance, and cheat the companies out of their 20- to 25-percent cuts: 1. Drivers are personally insured, and 2. If the apps lost meaningful revenue from underhanded rides, it seems they—not their competitors—would raise the red flag. And besides, the entire appeal of Uber and Lyft is the ability to request rides and pay within the app. People don’t walk around looking to flag them down.
So is this a real problem or an issue invented to shift our attention from Las Vegas cabs, who were found by the Taxicab Authority to overcharge customers $47 million annually? I would say no, and yes.