In Montreal, government officials ground SUVs until partitions are installed.
U.S. operators always seem to be grumbling about government regulations and the hoops and hurdles we need to jump through to operate legally. There was the infamous California battle waged against us by State Assembly member Mark Leno that would have allowed each city to impose a tax on limousines incidentally dropping off or picking up in their city.
Las Vegas has its own quirky rules that out of town limos may drop off in Vegas or pickup in Vegas but if you try to provide any type of local ground transportation, you risk an immediate impound of your vehicle without a waybill showing that you were simply picking up or dropping off.
Recently, Nancy Periera of J.P. Limousines in Montreal shared with me a horror story that has affected all operators in Quebec operating SUVs. They all have been grounded from providing passenger transportation for-hire without first installing a partition separating the chauffeur and the passengers. Yes, you read that right; it includes your basic Tahoe, Suburban, Navigator and Escalade models straight from the factory. I am not talking about stretch limousine models.
Apparently there is some obscure law on the books that requires operators of passenger transportation including cabs and limousines to have this partition installed. I assume that the usage of SUV type vehicles began infiltrating the Canadian market about the same time it did everywhere else in the late 1990s.
However, only recently did it become an issue with Canadian authorities who implemented a total ban on these vehicles until the partitions are installed. If the vehicle is operating without it, the operator risks having the vehicle impounded. Pereira argued that there was no way for operators to install this panel as they simply did not exist to purchase and install. Since these vehicles are not produced by any third party coach-builder, it is not like they can just send it back to the factory for a retrofit.
This means the vehicles have been sitting for months without any revenue while operators wait for their day in court. That day is coming later this month, and operators are hoping a judge will see their plight and side with operators and allow the SUVs to return to work without the modifications that could be very expensive and serve no real purpose in our line of work. I can see the mandate to protect cabbies from robberies, but our passengers in SUVs are typically high-powered executives and ultra-cool celebrities. I will be keeping an eye on the outcome of this and provide more information as it becomes available. This is another example of government regulations that hamper our ability to make a living without serving any real purpose.
-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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