Hidden Cameras Catch Long Hauling
Sometimes, you have to resort to a little bit of creativity in order to get the information you need. A recent news investigation applied that idea when they used a hidden camera and audio recorder investigate a series of complaints involving long-hauling taxis in Las Vegas, Nevada. Long-hauling is when a taxi driver takes a longer route than necessary in order to increase their cab fare. It’s a low way to make more money.
Long-hauling is especially prevalent in the Las Vegas area, specifically for tourists who are going from the airport to places on the Strip or other locations. Instead of taking a shorter route, many drivers take the Airport Connector tunnel, a route which allows them to charge more money to their passengers.
Charles Harvey, the most recent Taxicab Authority administrator, says that tackling the issue of long-hauling is one of his top priorities, though it is a difficult challenge.
“One of the first things I wanted to do was take a closer look at it and try and gauge how much of a problem it actually was,” Harvey said.
As part of an internal investigation, Harvey and others officials of the Taxicab Administration disguised themselves as common riders and took rides from the airport to the Strip and back to note the price difference.
“On occasion we have been on the recipient end of long hauling, but more times than not we’ve had a fair ride,” said Harvey. In the taxicab industry, a fair ride means the most direct, therefore most cost-effective, ride.
For example, Harvey says on a trip from McCarran to the Bellagio, the most direct route for a driver would be to take Swenson to Tropicana to Las Vegas Boulevard.
However, taxi drivers do not always necessarily have to take the most direct route. There are a few occasions in which a driver can go another way; for example, if a passenger requests that a driver take a specific route, even if the route is longer, the driver should take that route. “The statute says that the driver cannot take a passenger on a longer route than necessary unless the passenger requests it,” Harvey said.
Long hauling affects more than just the passenger’s wallet; other drivers and the whole taxicab industry are affected too.
“The people that are long hauling are making the honest cab driver look bad,” said driver Brandon Sparling.
Sparling says long hauling often leads to more long hauling in other drivers.
When dishonest drivers are earning more money, it puts pressure on honest drivers to keep up with fare averages, which some companies demand.
“If you don’t keep up with the average, you get suspended or even fired after a while, and those guys make it tough for the guys who aren’t long hauling to keep up with the average and most likely keep a job,” says Sparling.
Journalists went undercover, taking several rides from the airport to the Bellagio to see how prevalent long hauling is.
Drivers have until the intersection at Wayne Newton Boulevard and Paradise to ask if a passenger wants to take the Airport Connector tunnel.
Once the investigating journalists, with hidden cameras in toe, arrived there on their first trip, our driver did not ask the question, and turned south.