The year 2002 represented new challenges for operators, legislative changes, anniversaries, and association efforts. Listed below are monthly highlights of LCT's coverage of these major events.
N.J. Limousine Owners May Get Own Classification
Governor Donald DiFrancesco vetoes a bill that could pave the way for operators in the state to get their own classification regarding workers' compensation. "The new program for workers' compensation will give limousine drivers their own classification in New Jersey," said Tim Rose, president of the Limousine Association of New Jersey. "We were formally grouped with cab drivers who have more frequent accidents. We hope this program will cut in half the current costs for our operators and that is great news in these tough times.""
Bush Extends SBA Disaster Relief Loan
President Bush signs into law an appropriations bill that increases the Small Business Authority's (SBA's) loan by $320 million. The additional funds raise the total funds available to help these businesses to $600 million.
Court Reestablishes Pennsylvania Commission's Requirement for Need
The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that the PUC must restore the requirement for operators applying for a limousine license to show a need for service. This overturns the commission's policy, which deregulated some of the requirements for operators in the state.
Armored DeVille Makes Debut
Cadillac debuts its armored DeVille at the Los Angeles Auto Show. "This concept car was displayed to gather consumer feedback and to see if the market is ready for an armored retail vehicle," said David Ransom, professional vehicles manager.
QVM/CMC Association Formed
The QVM/CMC Vehicle Manufacturers Association is formed and open to four classes of members: limousine manufacturers who are manufacturing vehicles under the QVM or CMC program, chassis suppliers, suppliers, and associate membership (open to anybody who is interested in the industry).
Olympics Bring Business, Challenges to SLC Operators
Salt Lake City Operators contend with barricades and extra security, but the Olympics bring happy travelers and increased business. "It was hard to go two weeks without much sleep every night," said Nick Baker, owner of Legend Limousine/Carey Limousine in Salt Lake City. "But overall it went better than anticipated."
Bobit Publishing Takes Over
Management of the NLA Bobit Publishing is awarded a two-year contract to manage the National Limousine Association. "Over the years we've always worked well with the NLA," said Ty Bobit, president of Bobit Publishing. "Being an Honorary Founding Member of the organization, I'm pleased that we've been given the opportunity to work with the NLA in this added capacity." Tom Mazza is named the new executive director of the association
NLA Appoints New Officers, Updates Bylaws
The National Limousine Association appoints new officers at its annual meeting, held at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. In addition, the association members address and change some of the association bylaws. Changes include the requirement of a quorum of association members to approve any new bylaw changes. Members also vote to divide the country into four regions instead of three in an attempt to give members greater representation on the board of directors.
LANJ Meets With CRIB
The Limousine Associations of New Jersey (LANJ) meet with the Compensation Rating & Inspection Bureau (CRIB) to further discuss the elimination of workers' compensation on gratuities. Also discussed is the establishment of limousines operators' own classification, separate from taxicabs and trucks. It's generally agreed upon at the meeting that by January 1, 2003, the limousine industry will no longer pay workers' compensation on gratuities and also have its own classification.
Houston Holds Off License Fee Increase
The Limousine Association of Houston successfully fights off a proposal by the Houston City Council to double the license fees for taxis and limousines. "We provided a comparison of fees between what Houston sets as a fee schedule compared with other cities' fees," said David Schovajsa, president of the Limousine Association of Houston.
LCT Show a Success
More than 2,800 attendees and exhibitors enjoy the LCT Show at the Paris Hotel on March 17-19. Highlights include an exclusive panel discussion with seven of the industry's most influential operators discussing strategies for surviving and being successful.
Lincoln/Mercury Returns to Michigan
Ford Motor Co. announces that its Lincoln/Mercury division will be moved back under the control of its North American Operation. The Limousine and Livery department of Lincoln is within Ford's North American Fleet Operations, and is not affected by the change. "It's an advantage to our industry, in my opinion," said Mike Bedard, limousine & livery manager for Ford.
NYC Operator Receives Commendation Attitude New York Chauffeurs
Transportation in New York is given a commendation from TLC Commissioner Matthew Daus in honor of Operation Free Transportation. This service was provided to bereaved families during the 9/11 tragedy and whenever the TLC prevailed upon the local community to help provide transportation.
Dav El Challenges 'Unconstitutional' South Florida Permit Ordinance
Dav El Chauffeured Transportation Network requests for 27 permits to be issued, in addition to the 50 currently allowed in Palm Beach, Fla. Dav El purchased Palm Beach-based Black Tie Limousine in 2001 to establish an office in the south Florida market, and asks for the permits in order to expand its operations.
"There hasn't been a license issue in Palm Beach for 30 years," said Scott Solombrino, CEO of Dav El. "There's a cap and we feel that's unconstitutional." The city cited traffic and parking problems. "Plus the fact that before we give permits of that nature, we have to open it up to everybody," said Palm Beach Councilman Allen Wyett. "If these permits are worth money, why don't we auction them? That's done in other cities." The council agreed to study Wyett's idea and how new permits might affect traffic.
NBTA Director Resigns
Marianne McInerney, executive director of the National Business Travel Association (NBTA), announces her resignation from the organization. McInerney joined the NBTA in 1997 as communications director and assumed the role of executive director in March, 2000.
NLA Makes Presence Known in Congress
Members of the National Limousine Association take their concerns to congress in an effort to encourage federal lawmakers to pass the interstate commerce bill and repeal the Gas Guzzler Tax. The gathering is part of the National Limousine Association's second annual "Day on the Hill."
TLC Enacts Strict Regulation on Super Stretches in NYC
New York City's Taxi & Limousine Commission announces it will be out in full force making sure operators comply with new regulations on the licensing and regulation of limousines that can carry up to 20 passengers. The commission's jurisdiction primarily affects the owner-operators who do business in New York City, and also may affect any owner-operator or driver engaged in illegally picking up passengers in New York City. The commission voted for the new regulations on super-stretches unanimously at a public hearing on June 20, and go into effect August 1.
Virginia Reforms Motor Carrier Legislation
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), working with the Virginia Limousine Association and task forces for property and passenger carriers, passes new laws to revamp the existing code that regulates commercial operations within the state. New regulations eliminate "vehicle specific definitions." The type of service and operations requirements are defined and broken down into two categories: Contract Passenger Carrier and Contract Bus Carrier.
Gas Guzzler Tax Increases on 2003 Lincoln Limousines
The Gas Guzzler Tax imposed on sales of the new Lincoln stretch limousines increases from $1,700 to $2,100, causing coachbuilders to adjust their sales prices. "The Gas Guzzler Tax is based on the vehicle's fuel economy," said Dan Mitchell, president of DaBryan Coach Builders Inc. The increased weight allowed by the new Town Cars is the reason for the change in its fuel economy, and thus the increase in tax.
Cadillac Celebrates 100 Years of Design Technology
Cadillac celebrates 100 years of building luxury automobiles. Production of the first Cadillac limousine began in 1906 with the Model L. Features included a 110-inch wheelbase, 4-cylinder engine, seating for seven people, and retailed for $5,000.
Operators Address New TLC Regulations
Owner-operators of super-stretch limousines in the New York City area are given a temporary reprieve from the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission. The TLC decides to go slow in enforcing its proposed new regulations after receiving an earful from a crowd of over 150 owner-operators and coachbuilders who packed a Brooklyn Hall to protest the regulations.
Rhode Island Defines Limousines
A new Rhode Island law requires that all limousine companies register with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and provide proof of insurance. "There was actually no definition of what a limousine, or a limousine company was," said Eric Weiner, owner of All Occasion Limousine in Providence, R.I. The New England Livery Association (NELA) had been working on the passage of the bill for the past five years.
Proposed Airport Shuttle Service Could Hurt Houston Operators
The Houston City Council discusses starting on-call, residential shuttle van service to and from Houston airports. The door-to-door, shared-ride van service would transport as many as eight people at a time from the same area of town, and compete directly with taxicabs and limousine service in the airport market. The proposal will be discussed in the city council's regulatory affairs meetings.
Regal Limousine Receives Recognition
Regal Limousine is recognized for its efforts on behalf of the Granite State Clean Cities Coalition. The organization was launched May 30 and consists of both public and private citizens and organizations devoted to improving air quality and reducing dependency on foreign oil. Regal has applied for a grant to assist with the replacement of 10 of its gas-burning Ford Crown Victoria airport sedans with Crown Victorias that burn compressed natural gas (CNG).
Annual QVM Meeting Stresses Improving Customer Satisfaction
Approximately 60 representatives from the 18 coachbuilders that are certified as Quality Vehicle Modifiers (QVM) by Ford Motor Company meet in Detroit for the manufacturer's annual QVM meeting. The two-day event allowed coachbuilders to learn about new requirements made by the manufacturer and what the company had in store for the future.
Palm Beach Denies Dav El Permit Requests
The Palm Beach Town Council refuses to issue limousine permits to Dav El Chauffeured Transportation by a 4-1 vote, according to the Palm Beach Post. The Chelsea, Mass.-based Dav El, which would operate in the area under the name Black Tie Limousine, requested the permits in order to park their vehicles at the Four Seasons hotel. In May, Dav El went to the council requesting 27 permits, but narrowed that request to five.
Ford to Stop Making Excursion in 2004
Ford Motor Company announces that it will stop making the Excursion sport utility vehicle after the 2004 model year. There is no official word at this time on a new SUV to replace the Excursion. "We have two model years left with the vehicle available to be ordered now," said Mike Bedard, Ford limousine and livery manager. "I would imagine coachbuilder supply could go over the next three years."
Terry Dewey Announces December Retirement
Terry Dewey, Lincoln's head of limousine engineering, announces his retirement effective December 26. Dewey has been working for Ford Motor Company for 29 years, and has been working as a manager of limousine engineering for the past three years.
Coachbuilder Lawsuit Moves to Appellate Court
Craftsman Limousine sued the LIMO association of certified coachbuilders for allegedly conspiring with the trade magazines to restrict its advertising. Ford Motor Company, a member of the association, was named in the suit and refused to settle, and thus opted to fight the case in court. In September, a Springfield, Mo., jury found in favor of Craftsman. However, Ford has appealed the verdict in the Kansas City Appelate Court.
Study Shows Corporate Travel Still Down 20% From 2000
According to a study by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA), business travel remains at below average. Survey respondents attributed the travel slump to the economy, not security, and predict that recovery is expected to take longer than previously thought.
Ford Announces 140-inch, 14-passenger Excursion
The new Ford 140-inch Excursion will be included in Ford's QVM certification program. The new vehicle will be the industry's largest conversion vehicle backed by the original manufacturer. "It's the only certified SUV limousine available with a 140-inch stretch," said Mike Bedard, limousine & livery manager for Ford Motor Company.