fares, How to not get ripped
off, how much to tip, and more
Taxis in general
I generally boycott the Vegas taxis because many (most?)
drive so dangerously,
running red lights, talking on cell phones, and speeding everywhere,
not only putting their passengers at risk but threatening people
crossing the street as well. When buses
and shuttles are an easy alternative I usually prefer not to
subject myself to a cab. If
I do take a taxi and my driver runs reds lights or drives recklessly in
other ways, I don't tip and I tell them why. For those who want
to take taxis in Vegas, here's what you need to know.
First, don't expect to pay by credit card. Some
accept cards, but some don't, because the Taxicab Authority won't let them. Go figure. If you want
to pay by card, ask before getting in the cab whether that's okay.
Know that you can't hail taxis from the street!
This isn't New York. That's why they're passing you by.
Taxis aren't allowed to stop on the street and they don't want to risk
the ticket for doing so. Besides, there's good reason for not
stopping on the street -- there's no extra space on the sides of the
Strip and stopping there would clog up traffic (and run the risk of the
taxi getting rear-ended...possibly right when you're trying to get in
it). To get a taxi on the Strip, go to the nearest hotel and get
in the taxi waiting line. If there's a long line and a lot of
traffic, walking or taking the bus could be faster. If you're not
on the Strip, you can hail a taxi on the street as long as there's a
parking lot or driveway they can turn into to pick you up.
Common problems are the cabbie "long-hauling you"
(taking a longer route in order to jack up the fare), or steering you
to some club you didn't want to go to, because the cabbie gets a
kickback from the club by taking you there. We'll cover these in
more detail later on.
If a cabbie is talking on a phone, I'll ask them to
stop while they're responsible for
my safety, and I recommend you do the same. Studies have shown
use is just as dangerous or worse as drunk driving -- even if
they're headset phones.
You're required to wear a seatbelt in a Vegas taxi,
though in reality few do. You can't drink alcohol in the
cab. (You used to be able to, but the law changed.)
Always jot down the cab number & company name when
you get in. If you want to make a complaint to the company or
the taxicab authority, it's useless without a cab number. Also,
if you leave something in the cab (like your phone or camera), having
the cab # could help you get it back (though it's not guaranteed --
your item might be stolen by a subsequent passenger or even by a rogue
All cabs are equipped with cameras by law,
but the images are downloaded only in the case of crimes.
Incidentally, I read one case where a cab company refused to let the
customer see the video so they could find out who took the phone the
customer accidentally left in a cab. (The company said it wasn't
Taxis from the airport
Taxis to most
from the airport cost about $16. It's cheaper to take the bus,
which I cover on the Transportation page.
And during peak times taxis aren't any faster, if you have to wait over
an hour to get one. Anyway, here are the sample fares.
Here's the alphabetical list from the NV Taxicab Authority.
- ~$14 to Alexis Park, Excalibur, Hard Rock,
Monte Carlo, NY NY, Planet Hollywood, Platinum, Signature, Terrible's,
- ~$16 to Aria, Bally's, Bellagio, Encore, Four
Harrah's, Hilton, Hooters, Imperial Palace, Luxor, Mandalay Bay,
Mandarin, Mirage, Paris, Venetian, Vdara, Wynn
- ~$18 to Caesar's Palace, Circus Circus,
Flamingo, Gold Coast, Palazzo, Rio, Riveria, Sahara, Treasure Island
- ~$20 to Palace Station, Palms, Silverton,
- ~$23 to Binion's Horseshoe, Boulder Station,
Fitzgerald's, Four Queens, Fremont, Golden Gate, Golden Nugget, Main
Street Station, Sam's Town, South Point, Union Plaza, Vegas Club
- >$23: Cannery ($47), Fiesta Henderson
($35), Fiesta Rancho
Valley Ranch ($27), Lake Las Vegas ($52), Red Rock Station ($43), Sun
Coast ($42), Sunset Station ($27), Texas Station ($30)
the airport, many cabbies will try to
tunnel because it's longer and increases the fare. (They might
say there's a "big accident" or "construction" on the regular
route.) Make sure to tell
your cabbie not to take the tunnel.
Vegas cabbies are notorious for taking you the long way
to jack up the fare. Of course they're required to take the
most direct route, but they'll use a couple of tricks to get you to
give them permission to take the longer way. The most common is
to ask you, "Do you want to take the fastest way?", because who
wouldn't want to get there faster? But the fastest route could be
more expensive because it's longer, and it might not even be faster,
anyway. Another trick is to ask you something like, "Do you want
to take the boulevard or Paradise Road?" Since a tourist probably
doesn't know the city well, they'll likely answer, "Whatever you think
is best." That gives the cabbie the right to take you whatever
route they want. And sometimes, cabbies will take you the long
way anyway without getting your permission.
But long-hauling isn't as terrible as it sounds.
First, going the long way might actually get you to your destination
faster, because the traffic on the Strip is often gridlocked.
Second, the longer route could actually be cheaper, because
when the Strip is gridlocked you would have been hit with waiting time
charges. Finally, if you do get long-hauled, it's unlikely to
cost you more than $5 extra. So don't obsess about long-hauling too
much. There are worse things in life.
Before the economy tanked, it was easy to get mad at
cabbies for long-hauling, but these days it's not
so simple. Some cab companies actually pressure their drivers to
scam their passengers, or risk getting fired. (Here's one cabbie's complaint about that.) In a
city with 14%
unemployment, many otherwise honest folks are desperate to hold onto
their jobs and may cave to the pressure. Many cabbies are honest
people and are really stressed out that they have to choose between
cheating their customers and putting food on the table. And even
if the cabbies don't get heat from their bosses, the temptation to
cheat is still there, because these days cabbies aren't making squat
unless they do cheat. It's easy for a cabbie to go an
hour or two with only one fare. So while I certainly don't
condone long-hauling customers, it's not at the top of my list of
complaints, given the unique nature of the economy. (Topping my
list is driving dangerously.) Because of the pressure to
long-haul in a bad economy, I abandoned my plan to take a bunch of
trips from the airport,
pretending to be a first-time tourist, and seeing what companies
long-hauled me the most. Maybe I'll revisit that idea once the
So let's talk about long-hauling from
the airport to your hotel. If they take the tunnel, you got long-hauled. If you're going to any Strip casino, make sure your
cabbie takes Swenson or Paradise and then heads straight west to your
hotel. (Swenson isn't on our map,
it's parallel to Paradise, just east of Paradise.) If you're
going downtown, taking the tunnel will increase the fare (because
the route is longer), but because you're taking the highway you'll get
there a lot faster. Your call. Wherever
you're going, check the sample fares above to see
about how much your ride should cost. (Fares assume you don't take the tunnel.)
Once you're at your hotel and you want to go somewhere
else, avoiding longhauling is tricky. First, if there's tons
of traffic on the strip, remember that going the long way could
actually be cheaper because you probably won't get hit with waiting
time charges. And even if you don't save any money by going the
long way, you might save some time. The problem is that the
cabbie may ask you whether you want to take the "faster" way every
time, even when it's not faster. It's hard for you to know
whether the long way is really faster or not. But here's a rule
of thumb: If your trip is more than two miles long (see our map) and it's between 5pm-11pm weekdays
or 1pm-midnight on the weekend, then the longer way could be
faster. If you're having a hard time making up your mind, ask,
much time will it save and what will the total fare be?" You
might not get the most accurate answer, but it'll give you something
go on, and if the price seems like a decent rate then you should be
happy with it even if it's a couple of bucks more than the direct
route. And of course, if the fare turns out to be higher than the
cabbie suggested, you can tip (less) accordingly.
By the way, without too much traffic, you'll pay
about $9 to travel half the Strip, and $15 to go from one end to the
other, or to go from mid-Strip to downtown.
Finally, don't let the cabbie know it's your first time
Be suspicious if it's the first thing they ask
you. If they do ask, lie. If you're riding in the front,
and this wouldn't embarrass you, you can also make sure the cabbie sees
you writing down the cab number. That helps keep rogue cabbies
Getting sold like cattle
Cabbies get kickbacks from clubs and restaurants by
taking you there.
So that's why your cabbie might be insistent that he take you
there. When I asked one cabbie to go to a certain restaurant, he
actually said, "Oh, that place isn't so good. We'll go to this
better restaurant I know instead." He didn't give me a choice, he
just told me he was taking me there and started going that way. I
had to insist on my original
destination, and at the end I didn't tip, and I let him know why.
When you ask to go to a
certain place, be aware that your cabbie might actually (falsely) tell
you that it
burned down or that it went out of business. If that happens,
then look at the bright side: You'll still get to your
destination (because you'll insist that you go there anyway), and when
you see that it's still in business, you'll save money because you
don't have to tip.
The problem of steering customers to certain places is
much more likely with topless bars, since those places can afford
bigger kickbacks than restaurants can -- often around $100.
In fact, the strip clubs pay cabbies so much that sometimes cabbies
even bribe their passengers,
by offering them a free cab ride and a few bucks if they'll go to some
certain strip club. (Of course, if you want to go to a
strip club and aren't particular about which one you go to, you can
milk this to your advantage. More on this from the Las Vegas Sun.) And because cabbies have
more potential for
the $100 kickback with male passengers than female passengers, cabbies
often pass up women in favor of men, making it hard for women to get a
cab. (An attorney did an experiment with hired actors and
confirmed the problem. More from 8 News Now.)
Hotel doormen are in on this action, too.
(These are the guys who provide the useless service of holding the door
open for you as you get into the cab.) Before the taxi pulls up
they'll ask where you're going, and if it's a place that offers
kickbacks they might pull you out of the taxi line and put you in a
free limo, with the limo driver giving a kickback to the doorman, and
the limo driver getting a bigger kickback from the club.
Here are some articles on the topic from the Las Vegas Sun, the LV Review-Journal, and the Portland Tribune.
Las Vegas taxi rates are the same for up to five
(though most taxis seat a maximum of four). So if you've got four
people in your party, it will probably be cheaper than the bus or a
Below are the current rates, as of October
2010. (And here's a link to rates at the Taxicab
Authority website in case my page gets outdated.)
See above for sample fares to and from the airport.
Going along the Strip, you'll pay
about $9 to travel half the Strip, and $15 to go from one end to the
other, or to go from mid-Strip to downtown. You'll pay more when
there's lots of traffic because then you'll get hit with the waiting
- $3.30 to get in the cab
- $1.80 surcharge for airport dropoff or pickup
- $2.40 per mile (charged as $0.20 per 1/12th mile)
- $0.20 - waiting time fee, charged every 24 seconds when
the cab is moving less than 8-12mph
How much to tip
I suggest at least 15%, rounded up to the next
that you're not tipping because of the great service you got, you tip
because cabbies don't make squat otherwise. Now, if your cabbie
ran red lights or was otherwise reckless, or if your cabbie long-hauled
you or tried to steer you, feel free to not tip and tell them why
you're not tipping.
But as long as my driver wasn't dangerous and took a direct route, I
always tip even if the service was nothing special.
In Vegas, all cabbies make a percentage of the meter (often
This differs from most other places where the driver effectively rents
the cab from the cab company, and is in the red at the start of every
shift. In Vegas there's no renting, the cabbies just get a cut of
the meter. And that's it -- they don't get any kind of hourly
wage in addition. Cabbies also pay for some or all of the
gas. So it's tough for them when it's slow and they manage only
every hour or two.
Incidentally, cabbies do pay taxes on their tips.
In fact, the IRS assumes
cabbies get a certain amount of tips, so cabbies pay taxes on those
tips whether they actually receive them or not. One cabbie claims
the IRS assumes cabbies get an average of 23% of the meter in tips (source), but I'm skeptical they're taxed
Here's one cabbie's take on appropriate tipping.
|A-North Las Vegas (ANLV)
Here's the current
list from the Nevada Taxicab Authority.
Nevada Taxicab Authority
This government agency sets rates and regulates
the taxi industry. Here's their website. You can make complaints about cabbies
Note that your email address isn't safe with them. I
used a unique address for the complaint I made to them (I didn't use
that address for any other purpose), and after I sent my complaint
about a reckless Vegas cabbie, the spam started
coming in. It could have been a rogue employee selling addresses,
but it also could be that their systems aren't secure and spammers just
stole the address. For whatever reason, I'm glad I used a
disposable address when I wrote to them -- and you should too.
Many Vegas cabbies have websites or blogs.
Here's a sample.
- Cabbie Chronicles.
Andrew Funk's blog. Of interest is his case about being convicted
of picking up passengers on the street (which isn't allowed in
Vegas). He made a valiant and eloquent attempt to show that he
didn't violate the letter of the law, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Taxi Driver. Phil Staudt stopped driving in 2009, but he kept
the site up, sharing info and stories about taxis and Vegas.
- Taxi Cab Confessions.
This blog is nearly illiterate but it's certainly the most
entertaining, telling stories of prostitutes and celebrities and
whatnot. Unfortunately it hasn't been updated since 2006.
Vegas Taxi Driver. An anonymous cabbie talks about the taxi
industry and the city.
Last update: February 2011
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