Las Vegas Uber, Lyft Customers Say They Wait Too Long for Rides, Regulations Questioned

Posted on: April 6, 2021, 05:12h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2021, 02:06h.

Passengers are complaining that wait times for ride-hailing companies like Uber or Lyft are way too long at McCarran International Airport and other Las Vegas locations. The delays come as the number of tourists heading to casinos and hotels starts to increase and demand for rides edges up.

Ride-hailing services want to let drivers use surge pricing
Many passengers wait for a ride from a ride-hailing service at McCarran International Airport. The delays have gotten worse recently. (Image: Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

“We have seen periods of increased wait times for those utilizing rideshare at LAS,” said Joe Rajchel, a McCarran spokesman, to on Monday.

Similar delays are found at Circa Resort & Casino’s Garage Mahal, located in downtown Las Vegas. Employees there have heard passenger concerns over wait times and cancellations, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“Lately, in Garage Mahal, especially on peak days, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, upon checkout time, there’s higher wait times because of a shortage of cabs and Ubers,” Danny Suy, valet lead for the Circa Resort, recently told the Review-Journal.

It was also revealed in the report that the number of active ride-hailing drivers in Nevada is less than half of what it was a year ago, according to the Review-Journal.

As of March 30, there were 13,723 active ride-hailing drivers in Nevada. That compares to 36,482 on March 13, 2020.

State Pricing Approach Blamed

The delays faced by waiting passengers were blamed by some on pricing rules set by state officials. The regulations were implemented because of the COVID-19 emergency, which has been in place for over a year.

Ride-hailing services want to let drivers use surge pricing or dynamic pricing. Under such an approach, when there is very high demand, prices may increase. If passengers do not want to pay the higher rate, they can pass on the ride and wait to see if rates have gone down.

These alternate pricing systems would encourage drivers to go to areas in Las Vegas where there is increased demand.

But the Nevada Transportation Authority prohibits such practices during emergencies declared by state officials.

“Due to the long-term state of emergency … in Nevada, state regulation currently prevents rideshare companies from using dynamic pricing to incentivize drivers during periods of high demand,” an Uber spokesperson told

“This inadvertently impacts driver earnings and rider reliability,” the spokesperson added.

“We are working hard to meet demand. However, due to Nevada’s state of emergency and regulation preventing transportation networking companies from incentivizing drivers, there’s an impact on rider experience and driver earnings,” a Lyft spokesperson was quoted similarly by the Review-Journal.

Still, Uber told it was “excited to see ridership rebounding in Nevada.” Lyft similarly told the Review-Journal there are “big increases in demand for rides, as vaccines roll out and people get ready to start moving again.”

Nevada Legislation Introduced

To remedy the situation, one Nevada legislator, state Sen. James Settlemeyer, R-Minden, has introduced SB 279. That law would let Uber and Lyft enact surge pricing in emergencies.

Piper Overstreet, a lobbyist for Uber, told the Nevada Independent, “As our state is safely loosening restrictions and increasing access to vaccines, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in demand.”

The bill would let Uber and similar companies “adjust supply to meet that demand,” she added.

When asked to comment on the situation, Stephen M. Miller, director of UNLV’s Center for Business and Economic Research, agreed there are a supply and demand issue impacting Nevada’s ride-hailing sector.

“The ride-hailing industry in Las Vegas … experienced significant adjustment problems with the COVID-19 recession, where visitor volume fell from 3.8 million in February 2020 to 121 thousand in April 2020 (seasonally adjusted), recovering to 3.8 million in January 2021 (seasonally adjusted),” Miller said.

Such induced swings in demand for ride hailing cause similar big swings in supply,” Miller explained. “The market response during the recent recovery in visitor volume typically would involve price increases.”

But he confirmed that surge pricing is prohibited because of the emergency declared by state officials.

Miller also points out the recovery of the ride-hailing sector could be slowed because some drivers are receiving unemployment payments. That has delayed their return to work.

“The unemployment benefits may actually outstrip what they could earn as a driver right now, with tourism numbers where they are,” David Newton, a Nevada Transportation Authority commissioner, told the Review-Journal.