Uber Vegas: Capturing Pokémon

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Greetings and salutations from Vegas. I’m at the Mandalay wave pool, the geriatric hangout for those who can’t handle the previously documented pool party.

Since I’m here for NBA Summer League as a basketball agent, I’ve had to run around Vegas from gym to gym. In retrospect it would’ve been smarter to rent a car and stay off of the strip but then what fun would that be? Instead of doing that, I’ve relied on Uber and Lyft to get around. Uber seems to be surging at all hours which is why I’ve been utilizing Lyft more frequently.

The real issue is the city’s general disdain for these programs. At the Excalibur, Uber can only pick up and drop off at the rear of the hotel. At MGM, I was misinformed as to where the pickup location was. My Lyft driver understandably canceled because I didn’t show up in a timely manner. At Mandalay, I was scolded by my Uber driver for not asking the hotel for directions. The app says Beach Entrance and I was told to go to the pool area exit. That was not correct.  At the airport, clients have to pick up their bags and head back upstairs,  walk across the bridge then take the elevator to the mezzanine level to meet the driver. Now that I know where that is, it’s not a big deal. But the first time it was frustrating for me and the driver. Last, for Summer League, the pickup location has changed each of the days I was there.

I asked a couple of the drivers about the tolerance for Uber and they said that hotels purposefully have made it this Pokémon capture game in order to dissuade guests from using the service. One driver said that Uber’s presence is such a polarizing issue that a local official is using it as part of her platform for reelection. The politician evidently took $78,000 from the taxi lobby to further their cause of curtailing Uber’s expansion.

Try as they might, the Vegas taxi mafia won’t be able to block Uber’s growth in a place home to some of the worst taxis in the world. Rather than fight market forces, hotels should embrace change and do something really bold- kick the taxis out.

It’ll be a cold day in Vegas before that happens.

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