Monday, May 30, 2011 | 5:03 p.m.
CARSON CITY – The Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that would take profits from Clark County taxicab companies that charge a $3 fee to riders who use a credit or debit card to pay their fare.
Under the bill, $400,000 would be collected every six months from the taxicab industry and turned over to finance a senior ride program, helping the elderly to pay taxi fares.
Spearheaded by Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, the committee changed Assembly Bill 351 to require each company to report every six months their cost to purchase, install and maintain equipment for accepting credit or debit payments. Also included would be the cost of administration and fees paid to the issuers of the credit or debit cards.
The Nevada Taxicab Authority, which regulates the cab industry in Clark County, would be required to set the credit or debit fee charged based on those figures. The fee would only be allowed to cover costs.
The first report is due in January 2012.
The magnitude of the business is shown in Frias Transportation Management, the largest transportation company in Nevada. According to its website, it provides more than 20,000 rides per day in Las Vegas and has a fleet of more than 1,000 taxis and limousines at five companies.
Other taxi companies first started charging the $3 surcharge, then Frias Transportation got permission from the Taxicab Authority to impose the same charge.
Starting in January, the Taxicab Authority must collect $400,000 every six months from the industry for the senior ride program.
Breeden said she became interested in the issue because her 76-year-old neighbor has to take a taxi for such things as shopping for groceries and going to the doctor. She said the $3 fee not only hits tourists, but also locals. “This is anti-consumer,” she said.
The bill should be up for final passage in the Senate on Tuesday or Wednesday. If approved, it would return to the Assembly for possible agreement on an amendment.