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Despite regulatory roadblocks, car service Uber is making a name in Vegas

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Lex Cannon

Uber’s business prospects would be bleak, mused Slate’s Matthew Yglesias, “if our nation’s taxi laws were not so dumb.” Overregulation of traditional taxi services makes them inefficient, he wrote in 2011, leaving openings for car-hiring facilitators like Uber, which allows users to choose, schedule, pay for and track vehicles bound for their locations with a simple app.

Since its first test run in New York in 2010, Uber has spread nationally and internationally—but not to Vegas. Why? Read the company’s January 4 blog that launched #VegasNeedsUber and blasted Nevada’s “outdated” laws mandating a minimum time limit (one hour) and fare (averaging $46) for rides in town cars regardless of actual time and distance. Such laws, the blog continues, are “bad for consumers, bad for competition and stifle much-needed innovation among Las Vegas transportation providers.”

Andrew Noyes, who handles communications and public policy for Uber, says the response to the social media campaign has been “incredible.”

“We’ve heard from residents of Las Vegas who want to help bring Uber to the city as well as business travelers and tourists who love using Uber in 70 other cities around the world and wish they could use it in Las Vegas, too.”

This isn’t the first place Uber has faced roadblocks, and it’s already building the brand in Vegas by way of LA and the Cosmopolitan. Through March 1, up to four people can ride in a luxury car or SUV from LA to a terrace studio at the Cosmopolitan with VIP access to Marquee and a ride back the next day for $1,200 total. Nevada law doesn’t factor in “because the trip starts in LA and ends in Vegas,” with the return journey off the Uber system as the transaction is already paid for. If the promotion goes well, what’s Uber’s next local move? “We’re excited about our partnership with the Cosmopolitan and we’ll see how things unfold,” Noyes says. “Stay tuned.”

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Erin Ryan

Erin got her first newspaper job in 2002 thanks to a campfire story about Bigfoot. In her award-winning work for ...

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