Government-related activities provide the backbone of the chauffeured transportation industry in Washington, D.C., and the demand for sedans and highly skilled drivers is fueled by the daytime business meetings and nighttime social events that crowd the city’s calendar.
Security concerns require operators to thoroughly plan trips, providing clients a high level of safety while also ensuring a superior level of customer service. In addition, unique regulatory issues and laws with heavy fines for non-compliance combine with an influx of operators from surrounding states to create a unique environment.
· Washington is a hub for world and national politics and a great deal of business is generated by government activities. Individuals and corporations doing work with government agencies and Congress are frequent clients.
· Conventions, sporting events and tourist groups also create substantial business throughout the year.
· Sedans outnumber stretches by at least 70%. “Long limousines are not really the image many [limousine operators’] customers want to portray,” says Tom Mazza, executive director of the National Limousine Association.
· Sedans: $45 to $65 an hour
· Stretches: $70 to $80 an hour
Number of Operators
· Approximately 400 in Washington; a majority are small operators with one to three cars.
· In addition, many operators doing business in the capital are based in Maryland and Virginia.
· Many drivers use cell phones to coordinate meeting locations with passengers because cars are no longer allowed to hold or park near many government buildings.
· Security procedures are a constant consideration when determining when and where to pick up and drop off clients at the three airports in the area, Reagan National, Dulles and Baltimore.
· Concerns about safety have actually encouraged some people to use chauffeured vehicles because it is secure transportation with a knowledgeable driver.
· To stay in complete compliance, operators must have a separate permit for each jurisdiction (Washington, Maryland and Virginia) they work in and they must display the correct license plate for the region they are driving in. Many, however, are not in full compliance.
· Enforcement of permit requirements is becoming more common, with chauffeurs and their employers each being fined $500 for a violation.
· “What I would love to see is for the metropolitan area to go to one controlling body so that between the three areas you could get one permit that functions freely,” says Mark Chadsey, general manager of Carey Washington.
· “It can be difficult to attract and retain experienced drivers because many elect to work in Virginia, where the regulations are not as strict,” says Richard Kane of International Limousine Service.
· Union Station is the most active for-hire pick-up and drop-off location in the city. This makes it a hot spot for inspectors to check drivers for the proper licenses and permits.
· Some companies register a portion of their vehicles in each of the three jurisdictions so that those vehicles with the proper permits can cover calls in each area. Scheduling pickups after a drop can be a challenge when each driver must have the correct credentials or make the return trip empty.
· Washington Metropolitan Limousine Association: Reginald Tymus of Capital City Limousine, is president. Phone: (202) 484-0200.
· Association of Limousine Operators in Maryland: Sharon Brown of B&R Limo is president. Phone: (301) 324-9622. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
· Virginia Limousine Association: Glenn Stafford of Stafford Limousine dba Love Limousine, is president. Phone: (804) 355-5466; E-mail: email@example.com.