NLA lobbyist Louie Perry told attendees gathered for the annual NLA Legislative Update Feb. 16 during the International LCT Show that electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) could cost $400 per fleet vehicle. Photo by LCT
[Note: This article was first prepared in March for the April issue of LCT Magazine and has been updated for the website].
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The International LCT Show provided the ideal forum for the National Limousine Association to underscore the primary political issues it must confront on behalf of operators nationwide. With the help of its Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm, Cornerstone Government Affairs, the NLA tracks multiple legislative and regulatory developments throughout the year.
Lobbyists Louie Perry and Greg McDonald gave an annual Legislative Update on Feb. 16 just before the start of the International LCT Show, and updated it this week.
Getting much attention this year are proposed requirements for Electronic Onboard Recorders (EOBRs) in small commercial vehicles, which the NLA considers unnecessary and costly given the strong safety record of chauffeured transportation companies. The Department of Transportation has now published a rule proposing to mandate EOBRs in all commercial motor vehicles. The rule likely will not be completed until 2016 or 2017, following a nine-month comment period. Since the federal highway bill expires this year, there is a possibility of addressing the issue legislatively and by the regulatory process as Congress will have to vote to deal with the highway trust fund running out of money.
“The NLA will oppose EOBRs for small, safe local for hire CMVs,” Perry said. “The law was intended for motorcoaches and large trucks. We will make the case that smaller CMVs should not be under the requirement.” Perry estimated EOBRs could cost $400 per fleet vehicle. “We will stay in front of this issue in hopes that it does not become a reality for the industry.”
STRETCH LIMO SAFETY
The NLA considers passage of a limousine emergency exit bill (SB109) in California last year to be “poorly planned legislation; very reactionary,” Perry said. California's SB109 requires all stretch limousines of 10 passengers or fewer to be retrofitted with two pop-out windows OR one pop-out window and one rooftop exit by Jan. 1, 2016. It also mandates that all new stretch limousines of those passenger capacities purchased after July 1, 2015 in California include a fifth door. “While our California members are focused on fixing the California legislation, NLA is going to make sure it doesn’t result in federal legislation getting enacted in Congress, Perry said. “We are watching out for any additional rules that can be placed on the limousine industry.”
Since 1990, there have only been a handful of deaths in stretch limousines, compared to 180 motorcoach accidents resulting in 334 deaths, Perry said. “The limousine and for hire ground transportation industry has a very clean safety record.”
UBER/TRANSPORTATION NETWORKING COMPANIES
Cornerstone and the NLA are closely tracking the issue of rideshare app-based transportation network companies and what regulations should be applied to them. So far, TNCs are not part of the NLA’s official legislative issue set, as the rideshare companies are fighting their issues in local cities and states and their agenda has not reached the federal level.
“There are lots of problems with Uber's business model and how it interfaces with state and local transportation regulations and insurance rules,” Perry said. “Uber stubbornly holds on to the view that they are a tech company, not a transportation company. At the federal level they have not worked on any of the regulatory, labor, insurance, and transportation issues. They just don't get involved in them. They don’t like working on national transportation issues and playing the D.C. game.”
NLA board director Scott Solombrino, now the CEO of Boston Coach and Dav El, told the opening day audience that the chauffeured transportation industry needs to develop the mobile technology legally to compete with Uber long-term. “We should let the process shake out. There are so many [entities] going after Uber, we need to sit back and see what happens.”
Solombrino warned that the industry needs to make sure it doesn’t “invite more regulation into our space in an over-regulated environment,” and that limo operators should decide individually on whether to compete with Uber.