It may be easier to fly over LAX's landmark Theme Building than drive by it in a charter bus, especially if the bus is not the same color as the others in a fleet. But, then, the theme building changes colors, too.
LOS ANGELES — California chauffeured vehicle and charter bus operators, already contending with some of the most aggressive ground transportation regulations in the U.S., now have to worry about matching paint jobs on their vehicles serving the Los Angeles International Airport.
Operator Earl Webb of VIP Limousine and Coaches in Santa Ana recently was denied airport license renewals for a 57-passenger Van Hool motorcoach and a 35-passenger Krystal mini-bus because the vehicles are not colored the same as the rest of the fleet.
The Van Hool is gray, and the Krystal is tan, while the rest of the LAX-accessible VIP bus fleet is all white with gold-and-black graphics and trim.
“It’s in fine print, but now if you have a bus that is a different color, you can’t pick up with that vehicle at LAX,” Webb told LCT. “Several companies have different colored buses. It’s certainly out of the range of their command [airport’s] to dictate to local companies what color a vehicle should be.”
The rule about matching paint for ground transportation fleets is on the books but has not been widely enforced. Requiring an operator to make all fleet vehicles serving LAX the same color would either limit the vehicles an operator can use to pick up and drop off passengers, or cause the operator to incur high costs for paint jobs. Of related concern are those chauffeured transportation fleets with black and white stretch limousine and/or mini-bus models.
LAX landside operations, which regulates charter-party ground transportation on airport property, now requires staff to visually see every registered chauffeured vehicle before putting a renewal sticker on it, Webb said. “This puts us out on a limb, putting our companies to the cost of $10,000 to paint a bus. It’s a tremendous cost to bring vehicles up to standard.”
Most of the buses in VIP Limousine and Coaches' fleet are colored white with the company insignia as seen above. But two buses are gray, and have run afoul of the LAX paint police.
Webb founded VIP Limousine and Coaches in 1985 and now runs its fleet of 70 vehicles with his son, Roger, out of the company’s Santa Ana headquarters and warehouse.
Greater California Livery Association President Mark Stewart told LCT he has heard of a few past such incidents involving paint rules at LAX, but it never was a pressing issue. He plans to meet with LAX landside operations officials on Nov. 8 to discuss this incident along with an agenda of regulatory items related to the GCLA. “This is the first time we’ll be discussing this issue,” Stewart said. “It could be isolated, or something that they are starting to enforce.”
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor