When I moved here in 2001 and started to chauffeur on the Strip, my business, my income lived or died by what many people in the transportation industry called “The Taxicab Mafia”. The main Las Vegas taxicab companies ruled all the transportation options a tourist had on the Las Vegas Strip. They controlled the doors at all the resorts where you would get a ride. If you needed to go someplace and didn’t have a rental car, you needed to use a taxicab.
At the airport, the lines to get in a taxi were usually long and winding and the people controlling the lines were cranky, demeaning, and demanding. (we called the “Brown Shirts”). And to imagine that these loudmouths, bossy people were essentially our city’s welcoming committee!
The TaxiCab Mafia
The owners of the three main cab companies also wrote the State rules for how taxicabs were to be operated as well as ran the agency that licensed the drivers, assessed the fees, and handed out fines to the drivers for doing what they didn’t want them to do. This “safety board” also ruled on who could work as a cabbie or who could own a cab company.
Their control didn’t stop with the taxicabs or the cabbies. They also controlled us, the limousines, and the chauffeurs. Why not? They also owned the limousine companies!
That all changed in 2017 as Uber started to push into the State. The only reason you are now allowed to use Uber in Las Vegas is that Uber had the money, the lawyers, and the time to push for changes in the state laws. The laws originally written by, supported by, and enforced by…… You know the answer! The taxicab companies.
As Uber got their foothold, the taxicab companies started to change their ways. By that time, it was too little too late. The damage had been done, the writing was on the wall and they started to sell. Today, a majority of Las Vegas taxicabs are owned by one or two companies that have no affiliation with Las Vegas prior to 2010.
Recently, I wanted to do a little look back at the Taxicab mafia and where they came from. I started to dig around and I came across a book written by a lady who went by the handle “Taxi Jean” called Las Vegas True Stories by Taxi Jean
It was written during what I figure is the start of the Vegas boom, the 1980s. At the time of the book, 1988, Taxi jean was one of only 5 female drivers. And from the stories and other items I found, she was one who didn’t take much gruff from anyone. Being female, driving a Taxi at night in Las Vegas in the 1980s wasn’t a wise thing to be doing. But she did and she survived to write about
Amazon had it as an “out of print” book. However, the University of Nevada Las Vegas Special Collections department had a copy in their vault of all things Vegas. So I made an appointment and went to visit to read the book and see what else they had (plenty!).
That led me to search to see if this “Taxi Jean” was still around. She was, maybe. She had a Facebook. But nothing was written, so I sent her a message anyway. She soon responded. And that has started an interesting friendship.
She told me about the book and that a second one was written, just not published. She also has a bunch of material she collected over the years she was a driver. She has since sent me the second book and a package full of Vegas taxi memorabilia. I’m a sucker for that stuff!
And it been an interesting read. I hope to share it with you over the next few weeks as I digest all this and figure out what to do with it all. The second book will be donated to the Special Collections as well as whatever she sent me that they can use.
What Do You Have?
I love to talk to people who lived or have real experience from “Old Vegas” (pre-2000). If you have any “Vegas” things from that era, including stories, either from living here or having relatives that did, I would be interested in talking with you and seeing what all you have. The history and the memories are fun to see and hear about. Contact Me and let me know.