RENO, NV - Reno residents can now legally catch a ride with their smart phones. Tuesday, September 15, 2015 Uber re-launched its Nevada operations. The company started operating illegally in Nevada in October of 2014, but was quickly shut down. Now that they are legal for operation, there is a lot more transparency in the costs associated with the ride-hailing company.
The convenience of an Uber is the main appeal. It is a high-tech way to hail a ride, and pay for it through a smart phone app.
"That is really, I think the allure in many ways of Uber and Lyft is the convenience and the immediacy of theoretically being able to get a car at your disposal," said Andy MacKay, Chairman of the Nevada Transportation Authority.
MacKay says the legislature put several rules in place that make the Uber of today much safer than the Uber of October 2014.
"The operations of Uber itself are not much different. The main difference, and I think it is an important one, is there now is a regulatory structure and framework to oversee these companies," said MacKay.
The question remains, do more regulations mean higher costs? The standard taxi rate in Reno is $.75 for the flag drop and $3 a mile thereafter. If you are in an Uber, it costs $2.40 for the flag drop and $1.85 a mile. Plus, you will have to pay Uber's $1 safety surcharge.
For a five-mile ride, a taxi would cost $18 plus tip. The same ride in an Uber would cost about $13. Uber asks people not tip their drivers.
"A ride that is for all intents and purposes identical in an Uber vehicle as opposed to a cab is going to be approximately 20-25% less," said MacKay.
There are exceptions to the rule. During high-demand times Uber has what is called surge pricing. The cost of a ride multiplies based on demand.
"You are going to know what that rate will be and you are going to have to accept it. If you don't want to pay for the surge then you just wait until the transportation demand drops and the rates drop to their base rate," said MacKay
While Uber in most cases will be cheaper than a taxi, it won't be as cheap as it is in other markets. The base rate for a ride in Sacramento, for example, is just a dollar. The per-mile rate in Sacramento is 95 cents.