SECAUCUS, N.J. & LOS ANGELES — Three veteran industry CEOs with extensive operations are launching an ad-hoc non-profit group that funds and coordinates efforts to fight for regulatory fairness between limousine companies and TNCs.
Called Advocates For Fairness In Transportation (AFT), the group will complement TNC-related regulatory efforts being pursued by the National Limousine Association and various state and regional limousine trade groups. AFT was formed by Cheryl Berkman, owner of Burbank, Calif.-based Music Express; David Seelinger, CEO of Secaucus, N.J.-based Empire CLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services; and Jonna Sabroff, President of Integrated Transportation Services (ITS) in Los Angeles.
Seelinger, Berkman and Sabroff are deploying Advocates in response to the widening regulatory battle with Transportation Networking Companies (TNCs) such as Uber, which is being fought mostly on state and city levels. AFT contends the TNCs are undercutting chauffeured transportation and taxicab services by avoiding or resisting regulations, fees and insurance coverage that apply to all other forms of ground transportation.
“We called a lot of NLA board members and they were all very supportive and thankful we are doing this,” said Berkman, who serves as the group's President. “I just want to keep the industry updated on what’s going on and to know there are people fighting for us.”
In the group’s opening salvo, the CEOs hired an attorney who wrote an Aug. 28 letter to Los Angeles World Airports regarding the “ongoing consideration of issuing Non-Exclusive License Agreements to (TNCs) allowing private vehicles to be used for commercial transportation services to and from Los Angeles International Airport.”
The letter further summarizes: “In proposing to permit TNCs at LAX, LAWA staff has so far failed to consider that permitting thousands of personal vehicles to engage in commercial operations on the airport's rights of way will result in greater traffic congestion, increased vehicle emissions, and public health and safety impacts at what is already a heavily congested airport. Therefore, we ask that you conduct an environmental review as required by the California Environmental Quality Act, before any further consideration of the TNC License Agreement."
FULL TEXT OF AFT LAX LETTER HERE
The letter has been circulated to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, four City Council members, the Board of Airport Commissioners, the City Attorney, and the President and executive director of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates charter-party carriers in California.
For now, the group is being funded exclusively by its three founders, but Berkman said they will start seeking other donors and contributors. Unlike a conventional trade association, AFT will not have the dues, roles or structures of such groups, but instead function as a highly focused effort on TNCs for as long as needed. The group is still developing its website.
Related LCT article: Berkman Sets Bold Example