Cab company rips the results of long-hauling report

A sign warns taxis of a Taxicab Authority Police long haul checkpoint near the entrance to the airport tunnel exiting McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Friday, June 8, 2012.

Long Haul Checkpoint

Taxicab Authority Police Senior Investigator I. Williams stop taxi driver Tesfaye Beshah at a long haul checkpoint near the entrance to the airport tunnel exiting McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas on Friday, June 8, 2012. Beshah got a ticket for long hauling. Launch slideshow »

State auditors critical of the taxi industry and Nevada Taxicab Authority regulators who oversee it “have gone psycho on long-hauling” and haven’t analyzed audit data properly, operators of Southern Nevada’s second largest taxi group say.

Yellow Checker Star Transportation issued a blistering press release Tuesday afternoon in response to a report from the audit division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau, saying auditors made presumptions about trip sheets that resulted in “wildly reckless and inaccurate results with regard to the issue of long-hauling.”

YCS said auditors inaccurately assumed that any trip that cost $5 or more over the average price was a long haul.

The audit report estimated that 22.5 percent of trips from McCarran International Airport were illegal long hauls — taking a longer-than-necessary route — resulting in $14.8 million in overcharges of customers over a year.

“Las Vegas is a unique city with regard to traffic patterns where the time and possible distance to transport a passenger to their destination in the shortest amount of time can vary dramatically,” the release said.

YCS Chief Operating Officer Bill Shranko said the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s analysis of the audit did not take into account that customers often direct drivers to take longer routes.

“It doesn’t account for the thousands of trips that are taken in which the customer just says, ‘Get me to this address as quickly as possible,’” Shranko said. “It doesn’t take into account the thousands of trips in which a customer says, ‘I haven’t been here before, take me on a tour of the city.’”

YCS said its internal studies show that based on traffic, passenger requests and road construction, a trip could cost more than $5 above the average trip cost and that the “bare statistical average of fares used by the state audit is a useless barometer of the legitimacy of fares.”

The company instead recommended that auditors review long-haul complaints filed by customers through the Taxicab Authority.

Shranko said YCS gets about 15 long-hauling complaints a month and all of them are investigated. He said that on average, 10 complaints are resolved and money is refunded to customers. The five that are unresolved are a result of customers not wanting to continue to pursue the complaint and filing paperwork.

On average, 10 drivers are disciplined for long-hauling every month at YCS with punishment ranging from a verbal warning to a written reprimand and suspension to termination.

“I think it’s wrong for the state to indict the entire industry based on the findings of this audit, which isn’t even accurate,” Shranko said. “Whatever happened to due process?”