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Las Vegas Taxi Long Haul – Know Before You Go

Every day, thousands of people land at McCarran International Airport with high hopes of hitting it big on the Las Vegas Strip. Unfortunately, a good number of these peoples are big losers before even hitting the casino. How? Taxi cab long hauls. Las Vegas cab drivers often take airport passengers on the “scenic route”, adding an extra $10 to the final bill. The only thing you really need to know is to always request to take Swenson Street when leaving the airport for The Strip. If you want to be fully prepared, however, read on.

What is a Long Haul?

“Long haul” is the term for when a cab driver takes unsuspecting passengers on an indirect, longer route in order to dishonestly increase the total fare. The practice of long hauling happens in many tourist destinations, particularly because most tourists will have no idea that it happened.

Long hauling can happen anywhere, but over the last couple of years it has become increasingly prevalent in Las Vegas. The problem typically occurs with rides from McCarran International Airport to one of the resorts on The Strip. While passengers usually arrive at the resort in the same amount of time, the final fare can be up to $10 higher than it should be!

How Do I Know If I’m Being Long Hauled in Las Vegas?

The most obvious sign that you’re being long hauled from the airport is the ominous “tunnel.” If your crooked cabbie takes the interstate, you’ll pass through a tunnel that runs underneath the runways at the airport. If you’re headed to a popular resort on The Strip, this is a sure sign of a long haul. The correct, surface road route will never take you on the interstate or through a tunnel.

As an example, here is a map of two routes to Aria Resort & Casino:

This long haul route from the airport to Aria will cost passengers around $7 more than the direct route.

The correct route, in green, is 3.8 miles. This should take about 11 minutes, and cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $15. The long haul route, in red, is 6.5 miles. It still takes 11 minutes, but will cost around $22!

How Do I Avoid Being Long Hauled?

All taxi cab passengers have the right to specify a preferred route. Leaving the airport, you’ll want to take surface roads, heading north on Swenson, instead of south via the interstate.

A good tip is to remember the old expression, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Vegas taxi cab drivers can be downright rude when blatantly told “don’t long haul me.” It’s always best to politely request the correct route. Say something like, “MGM Grand, via Swenson Street” or “Caesars Palace, can you take Swenson please?” The cab driver may give you some excuse about how Swenson is jammed up, or slow that day, but don’t fall for it. Stick to your guns.

Another option is to travel to your hotel via an airport shuttle. Depending on the number of people in your group, this can be a cheaper alternative to taxis. The shuttles typically stop at multiple properties, though, so your total travel time will be longer. Rest assured, however, that you won’t be ripped off.

What to Do if You’ve Been Long Hauled

Before you fly to Las Vegas, examine the Nevada Taxi Cab Authority’s estimated fare table. The webpage lists approximate fares from McCarran to popular Las Vegas hotels. If your fare is significantly higher than what’s listed, you were probably long hauled.

In that case, you have a couple of options. First, you can pay the heightened fare, and chalk it up as a lost bet in Las Vegas. The smarter thing to do, though, is to confront the cab driver. Tell the driver that he long hauled you, and you’re only willing to pay the Taxi Cab Authority’s estimated fare or else you will report them. Fearing a $500 fine, most drivers agree to this. Of course, don’t tip the driver. They attempted to scam you, and in no way deserve extra money for good service.

If the driver puts up a fight, call the Taxi Cab Authority’s hotline at 702-668-4000. Do this before you leave the cab. An agent on the other line will help confirm that you’ve been long hauled, and take down information to file a complaint against the taxi driver. It’s unlikely your situation will ever come to this, though, as most drivers relent by the time you dial the Taxi Cab Authority.

Why is it a Problem in Las Vegas?

The main reason for the McCarran long haul epidemic is that the long haul route is just as fast, but a longer trip in terms of mileage. Instead of taking the more direct surface roads, the cabbies rack up extra charges by looping passengers around the airport via the interstate. The higher speed limits on the interstate make up for the added distance. Usually long hauling increases the total time of the trip. This is a natural deterrent for cabbies, who like to see high passenger turnover. Unfortunately, that naturally enforcing deterrent doesn’t come into play with the McCarran long haul.

As an aside, Las Vegas cabbies attribute the rise in long haul rides to a glut of cab drivers in Las Vegas, causing increased competition and lower earnings. While it may be a valid complaint, it’s not an excuse for the illegal practice of scamming passengers with dishonest routes.

Long hauling is a serious problem in Las Vegas, but it something that is easily avoidable by informed tourists. Make sure to politely request that your cab driver take Swenson Street, and you’ll find yourself with a few extra bucks in your pocket. Also, please do not forget to tip good drivers. Shrinking taxi cab earnings contribute to the long haul epidemic, and stiffing honest drivers only exacerbates the problem.

One Comment

  1. I have the Taxi Authority on speeddial on my phone when I go to Vegas. I know what the fare to my hotel should be and I’ll tell the cabbie to take the short way. If he takes the tunnel I’ll offer him what the fare should have been when we arrive (bad cabbie, no tip). His choice, take it or we can both wait for the TA officer to show up. So far every one has taken it.

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