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April 23, 2014

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Taxicab Authority delays decision on credit, debit card transactions

The Nevada Taxicab Authority has delayed a decision on a proposal from a group of taxi companies that would have enabled them to accept credit card and debit card transactions for rides in their cabs.

The five-member board plans a special meeting April 6 so that its legal staff can research whether the board has the authority to regulate transaction fees.

The delay doesn't sit well with executives with The Frias Group, which had sought permission to start credit and debit card transactions for its Ace Cab, Union Cab, A NLV Cab, Vegas-Western Cab and Virgin Valley Cab companies.

Seven other Clark County-based cab companies already offer credit and debit transactions and have agreements with TaxiPass, a third-party vendor that has installed hardware and software in cabs to process transactions. With those companies, TaxiPass collects $3 per transaction and the unit includes a global-position satellite system to monitor cab fleet movements as well as a video screen that can display advertisements, a new revenue stream for the cab companies.

TaxiPass was allowed to contract with cab companies without board approval by former Taxicab Authority Administrator Yvette Moore, who viewed it as an administrative decision. Current Administrator Gordon Walker feels such contracts need the board's approval and put the Frias request on the agenda, as well as consideration for setting a maximum allowable transaction charge.

In a hearing Tuesday, board members questioned whether they had the authority to regulate the $3 transaction fee, since it's not part of the mileage rates approved by the board and is only assessed on passengers who use credit or debit cards. Other policy questions emerged when the Taxicab Authority staff noted that cab companies in other cities don't have transaction fees on their credit and debit card transactions.

"We don't know if $3 is the magic number," said board chairwoman Stacie Michaels. "I'd be very uncomfortable making a decision on this today until this is researched further."

That leaves Frias in the position of having its credit card request in limbo while several competitors that never got board approval already are conducting business the same way Frias had requested.

Frias CEO Mark James, clearly frustrated with the process, was hoping for a quick decision since his company is ready to go with credit and debit transactions and the matter originally was on the agenda of Taxicab Authority's February meeting, which was canceled because of conflicts with the special legislative session.

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