Fixing LV Cabs
Now that I am driving again and seeing the pitiful state the cab community is in, I cannot help but make a few comments and offer a few suggestions on how to make things a bit better for those honest cabbies driving in Las Vegas.
The following ideas are based on the assumptions that: A) if a cab is full it is doing its job and clients will not complain. B) traffic is the main culprit when considering the slowdown of cab movement and thus the complaints that there are “not enough cabs”. C) there will be times that there are not enough cabs to help everyone during peak times, but also there will be off hours where cabs will wait a very long time for even one ride.
With assumptions above, the only complaints are going to come in times of heavy traffic. If a full cab is doing its job they can be left out of the equation, thus we have to ask where are all the empty cabs. The answer is simple, they are at the Port queuing in a line with 250 other cabs or they are dead heading back to pick someone up but caught in traffic. Therefore the answer to the problem is solving the Port backlog and the traffic in and about The Strip.
There are several states the Port can be in. The first is running balanced where the number of cabs coming in to drop off is equal to (or there about) to the number of clients that are picked up there (the ultimate in efficiency). The second is there are more cabs than there are people to pick up, and thus a backlog of cabs “out of service” waiting for a ride. The third is there are far more rides than can be handled by the unrestricted cabs coming in. What the cab drivers need is a simple system on how to handle these situations. I propose a “Cab Light” system that clues the cabbies on what to do. Here is how it works:
There are three lights for each terminal. The top one is a Green R, the middle is a Blue Solid, and the bottom is a Red Solid. The Green R light tells the cabbies “ALL cabs are needed to move these rides, EVEN RESTRICTED, the pit is a drive through.” Why allow restricted at these times? Simple, you have to move the people as fast as possible and since there is going to be little to no wait time, the restricted cabs will be able to load a ride and get back out on the road (possible to a restricted hotel anyway) and service the clients in the most efficient way possible. The solid blue light is “Cabs needed” and is business as usual. The red solid light tells cabbies to not bother to load the pit, it is full and you are better off going elsewhere to load.
The likelihood is the Green R light is rare, but when it happens it will get people moved with greater efficiency. However, I would expect more red lights and cabs turned away from the port as it is more likely that there is a full pit, thus the turned away cabs will be forced to service other customers and that make them happy.
The next issue is getting the cabs back to the hotels and other locations. Part of this problem was solved with the redo of the Harmon and Paradise intersection. When this intersection is working correctly the traffic flows well and even with traffic cabs can make decent time back to pickup locations. What needs to happen is the lights need to be timed better and across multiple intersections to promote the flow BACK to the strip and other locations. When I leave the intersection of Tropicana and Swenson going north away from the port, the first light I hit is Harmon and Swenson. If this light is in sync with the previous light I can make it all the way up to Flamingo in a matter of a couple of minutes and well on my way to another stand or dropping off my current load and picking up the next. This is excellent traffic flow and if it was extended again to be timed with the Flamingo and Paradise intersection it would really increase the flow of cabs. So where is the problem? Emergency vehicles.
When an emergency vehicle comes to an intersection, some of them reset the lights so they can pass through them safely. This is great for the emergency vehicle, but what it does is throw the timing off of the lights in relationship to the other intersections. What is needed is a networked set of timed lights. When an intersection in the “Timed Light Network” is throw out of sync it must rely on the network to put it back in sync. Remember, this is to get the cabs BACK to where they need to be to increase client satisfaction.
The lights should sync like this:
1) Trop and Swenson -> Trop and Paradise -> Trop and Koval
2) Trop and Swenson -> Swenson/Paradise and Harmon
a. Harmon and Koval thru to Harmon and SLVB
b. Flamingo and Paradise thru to Convention Center and Paradise
c. Flamingo and Paradise thru to Flamingo and SLVB
Having the lights networked would get the traffic flowing and service the customers.
A radical idea would be a fixed fare from the port to certain other locations like the strip and downtown. Why do this? Because if the client is charged a fixed fare they would then take the tunnel and the freeway! This takes a cab out of traffic on the back side of the strip and alleviates the problem all together. Also it addresses the issue of long hauling and the TA would know if a long haul is happening without having to ask since ALL predefined destinations would be a fixed cost. ($20 to South Point / $25 to GVR / 16 to The Wynn, etc.) I am not sure how to do this with the meters we use, but I would bet there is a way around it.
Another radical idea: Close the strip to non commercial traffic. Build huge parking structures and run cabs and shuttles to the parking structures. With the strip free of non-commercial vehicles, moving people around on the strip, especially at night would be fast and efficient. As a nod to those that do want to cruise the strip in their private vehicle, they can buy a one day pass for $20 and take the private car on the strip for the day.
A comment for Brown Shirts at the Port: If you are going to direct traffic, please do not wave a cab or car to move when that movement would run over a pedestrian. Look first, then wave. If we were to move as directed we would be killing more people than I care to think. But worst of all, if we don’t move because you waved us on where we would have killed someone, don’t get mad at us. You may not mind if we kill people, but us drivers certainly do. Also, don’t scream at us if we get a tire over the white line where the busses may be, we are just trying to drop someone off and there is no bus there anyway (hence are able to put a tire over the line.) Screaming at us just slows us down when we would be gone before you know it. In short… Chill out.
A note to other driver at the port: There is more than enough room to pull over and unload your fare without blocking in the cab to your right. Please take a moment and be considerate and not lock in a cab who is ready to leave while you are not even unloaded. It is very frustrating when you do this. I try my best not to lock/block anyone in.
To new drivers: This may be a duh, but if you are close to the end of your shift and you go to a stand that would lock you in (like Bellagio or Wynn) be ready to wait it out and don’t expect other drivers to back up and let you out. Just like the port, once you are in you are in and no one is going to cry (except maybe you) if you are late in getting back to the yard and get a tongue lashing. Let’s face it, you were stupid and deserve it. Think before you go down a tunnel!
Also to new drivers: You do realize that you need a map book right? You do realize you have to speak English, right? Nothing ticks me off more as when I am waiting to receive copy but the dispatcher is giving turn by turn directions to some dumb ass driver. I got a get moving, I am loosing money waiting for you. And those that can’t speak or comprehend English… find another job. Again, I am loosing money while the dispatcher spells out every word for you and then you still need it repeated 10 times.
I bet we all know what the biggest complaint is when a fare gets into the cab, right, the rudeness of the last driver. I swear I am sick of apologizing for all the drivers that speed, talk on the phone, ignore the clients, fake speaking English, long haul, and all the other rude behavior that some cabbies demonstrate. Hell, I even have a comedy routine worked around rude cabbies that sooths the pissed off clients. Why can’t some of you guys do your jobs and be polite? I just don’t get it.
Ok, that is all that I got for now, but I would bet if we could live up to even half of what is mentioned above, us drivers would get richer, the client would be happy, and there would be less need for cabs overall on the road.
Next article: Why we sit and wait.