LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Las Vegas visitors can now hail a ride from a taxi or limo company using their smartphone, even if they can't use the popular ridesharing apps available in many other U.S. cities.
Integrity Vehicle Solutions on Wednesday launched the Ride Genie app, which gives users access to about 400 black cars, SUVs and limos from several transportation companies. Taxis are expected to be picking up assignments from the app in the next six to eight weeks.
"The riding public can take advantage of the convenience of technology without losing the assurances that the driver and car that they hail are properly inspected, regulated, licensed and insured," said Ride Genie CEO Mark James, former CEO of the Frias cab and limo company, which is among several firms offering their services through the app.
Individual companies "were able to put their competitive differences aside to create a better consumer experience," James said.
The app allows users to watch the vehicle's progress toward them on a map in a style similar to ridesharing apps Uber and Lyft, although the drivers are professionals regulated through the taxi authority and not people using their own cars or shuttling passengers as a side job.
A few other differences stand out: The app adds a default 20 percent tip to each ride, although passengers can adjust the tip or remove it altogether if they choose. It also adds a $5 fee to each ride hailed through the app; that money goes to Ride Genie.
The app operates within the confines of Las Vegas' stringent cab and limo regulations and fee structures, which means riders who call for a black car or sedan will have to pay for a minimum of one hour of service. The vehicles typically cost about $50 an hour, including a $5 fuel surcharge.
Ridesharing companies including Uber have expressed interest in entering the Las Vegas market, but so far have been kept out of town because of heavy regulation. In April, cab companies asked the Nevada Transportation Authority to put ridesharing services on notice that their vehicles would be impounded if they operated outside the regulatory structure.