Nevada Eliminates Ban on Surge Pricing for Rideshare Services, Fewer Delays Likely

Posted on: June 1, 2021, 09:06h. 

Last updated on: June 1, 2021, 10:49h.

Lyft and Uber are once again able to use surge pricing for rideshare services at Las Vegas casinos and McCarran International Airport. Late last week, Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) removed the temporary statewide pricing ban, effective immediately.

Rideshare companies repeatedly asked Gov. Sisolak to lift the ban
Passengers wait for rideshare services at McCarran International Airport. There should be fewer delays for Uber and Lyft after Nevada lifted a ban on surge pricing. (Image: YouTube)

The ban was put in place last year so passengers would pay more predictable rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Associated Press. The pandemic was classified as an “emergency,” state officials said.

Under the surge approach, prices for rides may increase when demand is high. If passengers do not want to pay the higher rate, they can pass on the ride and later check an app to see if rates decreased. Bans on surge pricing were intended to prevent price variability during short emergencies. The ban prevents an increase in fares above the base rate, Sisolak said.

Under the new policy, if surge pricing is banned in future emergencies, the prohibition will be effective only for 30 days, Sisolak said.

“With more people becoming vaccinated and Nevada’s economy reopening, Uber is focused on bringing back earnings opportunities for drivers during busy times and improving reliability for Nevada riders,” Uber said in a company statement.

Lyft, Uber Asked Gov. Sisolak to Lift Ban

Rideshare companies repeatedly asked Sisolak to lift the ban. Officials from Lyft and Uber blamed the surge pricing ban for a shortage of rideshare drivers and associated increased wait times for passengers.

By using surge pricing, charges in excess of the base rate can be given to drivers for bonuses and other incentives. That way, rideshare drivers will drive during periods of high demand, Lyft regulatory compliance manager Elizabeth Gallagher wrote to the Nevada Transportation Authority (NTA).

Still, many former rideshare drivers appear hesitant to resume driving because of coronavirus risk. Also, some former rideshare drivers likely opted to continue to collect unemployment checks and supplemental federal checks rather than work at a job.

Rideshare Wait Times Jump

Peak wait times for rideshare services in Nevada jumped 225 percent since March 2021, the AP reported, citing data from the NTA. In some cases, passengers were waiting up to 30 minutes for a ride.

Earlier this year, Delane and Greg Boog, a couple from Michigan, waited almost a full hour at McCarran Airport for a rideshare car to the Las Vegas Strip, the AP said.

Sisolak said ridesharing companies now will “better serve Nevadans and travelers looking to take advantage of transportation options.

The regulation change will help residents and visitors by decreasing wait times, increasing public safety, and providing efficient and affordable transportation options during the ongoing public health crisis,” Sisolak added in the statement.

Lifting of the ban comes as Las Vegas tourism increases. More than 2.2 million people visited Las Vegas in March.

That represents a 45 percent jump from February totals, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA).

As more people in the US get COVID vaccines, the number of tourists heading to McCarran, as well as to casinos and hotels in Las Vegas, is predicted to further increase.

Las Vegas is also facing a shortage of rental cars at many locations. Rental cars were in short supply or were unavailable at some Las Vegas locations for the Memorial Day weekend.