In a recent article published by LCT, the Philadelphia airport was named one of the nation’s worst airports for limousine operators.
The airport is located in the nation’s fifth largest city and was criticized for forcing operators to rely almost solely on short-term parking to conduct business. Operators complained about constantly changing regulations and an aggressive airport police force.
Former South Jersey Limousine Association (SJLA) president Jim Moseley and LCT senior editor Tom Mazza recently met with Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell to discuss airport issues. In a 40-minute private meeting, Moseley outlined a proposal that would give 120 priority parking spaces to sedans and limousines throughout the airport.
Moseley, who has been actively working with both the Delaware Valley and South Jersey limousine associations, had previously reviewed the plans with airport police and administrators.
“In more than 10 years of working with the city, we have never been granted access to the mayor’s office,” says Moseley. “I don’t know if this plan will be adopted, but our association is very grateful to LCT for the exposure it gave to problems at the Philadelphia airport. That article and the efforts of Tom Mazza have opened the door to the mayor’s office for our association.”
Rendell, who was recently named by Time magazine as one of the nations most effective big city mayors, promised to follow up on Moseley’s plan. “If the airport is treating the limousine industry unfairly, then changes will be made,” says Rendell. “Frankly, the limousine industry brings visitors to our city that are critical to our economic development. We need to treat limousine operators with respect.”
A Toronto operator who has been in business for 12 years describes a dispute he had with local authorities. “I had just picked up a group of five visitors at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The vehicle pulled away from the hotel and was stopped by a local policeman. The client was asked to exit the vehicle and was told we were not licensed to transport them. I received a $300 ticket. The ticket does not bother me. But how do I explain to a corporate client who has been a customer for five years that we have a licensing problem.”
Toronto Metro police are often confused about the regulations. A 10-year veteran operator who legally operates under a rented permit says, “I have been pulled over and the police officer begins to write a ticket because I do not have the small white plate on my vehicle, which is not required. Only the permit is required. We were operating legally and had a copy of the permit. I tried to explain this to the officer. The ticket was dismissed in court, but I was still embarrassed in front of my client.”
Tom Mazza, LCI senior editor, was the featured speaker at the Ontario Limousine Association’s May meeting and was surprised at the problems in Toronto. “I have visited operators all over the United States and I have seen some outrageous regulations directed at our industry,” he says. “However, I have never seen a local government refuse to allow a company to become licensed and then actively police and ticket it. The removal of passengers from hired vehicles is very unusual. A city spends millions to attract tourists and then this occurs. It’s terrible public relations for a city”
LCT contacted the Metro Licensing Authority in Toronto. The Authority acknowledged the current situation with licensing limousine services, but contended that the freeze is necessary.
Carol Ruddell-Foster, general manager of the licensing commission, said the commission is “not responsible” for the measures taken by the police department. Further, she said there are no immediate plans to lift the freeze on new licenses.