Former NYC Limo Regulator’s Column Undercuts Philly Operators

Posted on September 22, 2010 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

INDUSTRY FLAP: Former NYTLC Commissioner Matt Daus alarmed Philadelphia operators recently by siding with a regulating agency that operators have been struggling with for five years. PRLA President Phillip Jagiela offers a pointed rebuttal.

PHILADELPHIA — A column written by former New York Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Matt Daus has created a furor among Philadelphia operators who believe the former regulator’s views hurt efforts to improve their regulatory climate.

At issue is Daus’ column in the August issue of Black Car News that sides with the Philadelphia Parking Authority — an agency that operators led by the Philadelphia Regional Limousine Association have been trying to escape in favor of being regulated by the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission.

Since Philadelphia operators were put under the authority of the PPA in 2005, they have had to comply with more cumbersome and costly rules than other Pennsylvania operators who fall under the jurisdiction of only the PUC. Jagiela's company, Aries Transportation Group of Southhampton, Penn., for example, lost $14,328 in net profit in 2009 because of increased PPA compliance and regulation costs.

The column comes just as the PRLA is making progress toward overturning the PPA’s authority over chauffeured transportation operators through House Bill HB2434 and Senate Bill SB759. Both bills would return regulatory oversight exclusively to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC), instead of the current dual regulating purview of the PPA and the PA PUC.

HB2434 is now before the House Consumer Affairs Committee, which plans to hold more public hearings. SB759 is before the Senate Consumer Protection Committee and still needs a chairperson to hold public hearings.

Last week, PRLA President Phillip Jagiela wrote a lengthy response to the column, pointing out that Daus, who is also president of the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF TRANSPORTATION REGULATORS, did not have all the facts on the issue when he wrote the column.

Both the original column and Jagiela’s response were posted on the web site of the PHILADELPHIA REGIONAL LIMOUSINE ASSOCIATION late last week. Jagiela said he has been talking with Black Car News about publishing a possible response, but for now is holding off.

Industry agitation about the column brings up the newer, more complex role of Daus, who stepped down as NYTLC Commissioner earlier this year. As TLC Commissioner, Daus was instrumental last year in leading a comprehensive revision of New York’s TLC rules for for-hire vehicles that was agreeable to both industry associations and the TLC staff which worked together toward a final version.

Now a partner in a New Jersey law firm, Daus advises and helps tri-state area chauffeured operators deal with ground transportation issues and regulations. Most recently, he spoke at a Limousine Associations of New Jersey meeting on Sept. 15, where he gave a presentation advising operators on how to comply with new federal D.O.T. regulations and avoid getting cited and fined. He also has written a column to that effect.

Daus did not return a message from LCT seeking comment as of today’s e-blast time. [This article will be updated accordingly].

The column and PRLA rebuttal have led to some spirited e-mail exchanges this week among detractors and defenders of the Daus column. In a public message to PRLA members and other operators Tuesday, Jagiela wrote the following:

“As many of you know the Philadelphia Regional Limousine Association (PRLA) has been battling the Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) for the past five years. Although some positive things have occurred, the vast majority of our concerns have not been resolved. We were successful in having legislation put into bills in both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania Senate. Our battle has been huge and for our association to have succeeded this far without the help of lobbyists, or others who are skilled at this, is tremendous. Through the professional, grass root efforts of only our members and friends of our association, we have moved a mountain. . . . Unfortunately, our industry suffered a set back in our efforts by Daus and his desire to support a fellow International Transportation Association of Regulators (ITAR) member, the Philadelphia Parking Authority, by writing this column. We know that Mr. Daus has shown his support to some other industry members in that past, but, in this circumstance, he has chosen to support the regulators with this written piece.”

— Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine

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