Taxi taks fares for stiff ride
On New Year’s Eve a taxicab driver in a white station wagon using the name Stateline Taxi solicited business in front of Caesars Tahoe, charging 11 patrons a flat rate of $15 per person regardless of destination.
A fare of $10 was scribbled on a temporary sign posted inside the vehicle. Once the passengers agreed to the rate, the driver increased the charge to $15, failing to turn on his meter, as was witnessed by Tahoe Daily Tribune reporters.
According to city of South Lake Tahoe taxicab ordinances, which are similar to Nevada’s codes, taxi meters must visually register total and paid miles traveled and drivers may not solicit fares. Codes also require rates be posted in a permanent, readable form inside and outside the cab.
South Shore taxicabs are required to obtain licensing from the regulatory agency on the side of the state line where they are picking up passengers. Neither the city of South Lake Tahoe nor the Nevada Transportation Services Authority recognize Stateline Taxi as a licensed operator.
“Stateline Taxi is not operating under authority in the state of Nevada,” said Chris Sewell, an investigator for the Nevada Transportation Services Authority.
According to Marcel Mattingly with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, Stateline Taxi is not a legal cab in the city of South Lake Tahoe.
“We’ve been trying to get these guys for years,” he said.
Because of its lack of licensing, Stateline Taxi is not allowed to pick up customers at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, Harveys Resort & Casino or Caesars Tahoe.
“Stateline Taxi does not meet our required criteria,” Harveys Director of Marketing Bonnie Picker said. “There are certain permits that are required.”
Bruce Bommarito, Caesars vice president of hotel operations, said proper licensing is a must at Caesars as well.
“We have always maintained a position that we do not allow non-permitted taxis to come onto our property,” he said. “We check the cabs for permits about once a month.”
Bommarito said the illegal cab company must have snuck on to Caesars’ property on New Year’s Eve.
Paradise Taxi Manager Russ Rummelt said Stateline Taxi’s illegal operation has pulled from his business for years.
“It makes us all look bad and it steals our customers,” Rummelt said. “We charged a meter rate which was a little bit higher (New Year’s Eve), but we kept our meters running. It’s frustrating because I pay my fees and do everything legally.”
Rummelt’s wife Linda, who owns Paradise Taxi, said most of her cabbies took home close to $600 that night.
With one pickup, the Stateline Taxi driver made $165.
Stateline Taxi does not have a listed number and therefore could not be reached for comment.
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