Las Vegas taxicabs can be a lifesaver after a long night or in the middle of a hot day. Every city taxis differently, though. If you’re used to flagging cabs in New York or shuttling to and from LAX, be prepared for a whole different animal once you touch down in Sin City. Here are five tips for making taxis your friend on the Strip.
- Get your hand out of the air. Unless you need to air out your armpits, this accomplishes nothing, because Vegas taxis don’t stop for raised arms like they do in New York or other major cities. If you want a taxi, find a taxi stand or request a pickup. “Curb,” the official free smartphone app for hailing a taxi in Las Vegas, has 4.7 stars out of 5 on the iTunes store from over 6,000 reviews.
- If all you have is plastic, ask before you get into the taxi if the driver accepts credit cards. Taxi drivers are not required to accept credit cards. If this comes as an unpleasant surprise at your destination, you could be in trouble — it’s illegal to stiff a taxi driver.
- Know your route, and be prepared to insist on it. The Google Maps app factors in traffic conditions and is great for calculating distance and drive time. “Longhauling” is lingo for taxi drivers intentionally taking routes that will result in higher fares. It’s illegal in Nevada, but widespread. Don’t stress over it too much — you probably won’t lose more than $5 or so (chump change, compared to what you’ll lose at Caesar’s). Also, the shortest route might actually take longer due to traffic. Remember, taxi fares are a function of both distance and drive time. One exception — INSIST that the driver not take the I-215 tunnel from the airport. Many of them will try this trick, but it’s always longer and costlier. Insist on taking Swenson or Paradise. If your driver offers you a choice of routes and you don’t know which one is better, do not say “Whichever you think is best.” That legally absolves the driver of “longhauling” liability and you could be in for a ride to the cleaners.
- Beware of “diverting.” It’s a scam as old as time — “Oh, you want to eat where? The food there is terrible. I know a much better place!” Chances are excellent the cabbie is getting a kickback from that “better” joint. He may even go as far as suggesting that your requested destination, has closed down, been shut down, burned down, etc. Don’t fall for it — call ahead to your destination or look for up-to-date web reviews and trust your gut.
- Jot down the taxicab ID number and parent company. That way you can report abuses, or request the same driver in response to great service.
Speaking of tips … had a great ride? Make sure to tip! (10%-20%) Encouraging quality service is win-win for taxicab drivers and patrons alike!