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Edward Vergopia Jr. (L) of Empire Coachworks International hosted the March 21, 2012 meeting of the Limousine Associations of New Jersey where Brad Roney of Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles reported a strong opening order trend for the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car.
EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The Limousine Associations of New Jersey (LANJ) hosted a packed event Wednesday, March 21 at Empire Coachworks International in East Brunswick, bringing together vendors and regulators to confront several critical issues facing the state’s limousine industry.
Before the regular meeting, the LANJ board met at an open board meeting following a recent vote to hold open board meetings and to invite association members to attend these meetings as a way of being transparent in their proceedings.
Jitneys not too jolly
Board members once again addressed the issue of jitneys. Operators close to shore towns and the Atlantic City airport are seeing the jitneys in use at the airport and performing door-to-door service as well as weddings. In New Jersey, jitneys are not called out by the transportation authority. They initially were used as niche transportation in Atlantic City. Today, they have expanded their reach serving other communities. The problem with the jitneys is that they are operating in a gray area not being addressed by regulators. The jitneys do not have DOT numbers which are required of limousine companies for vehicles carrying the same number of passengers. The vehicles do not have seat belts. They are a subsidized form of transportation by the New Jersey Transit Authority but the parameters of their operation are not defined.
Additionally, the insurance issues are not being addressed for jitneys. Limousine companies in New Jersey carry $1.5 million minimally in insurance coverage. Jitneys only carry $115,000 in insurance and use the omnibus plates which are used by taxis. Chauffeurs in New Jersey require certification by the state which only can be obtain once the individual is drug tested, background tested and their motor vehicle driving record is reviewed. Jitney drivers do not have the same requirements. Operators in these areas would like to see them put on a level playing field with them.
The LANJ board has committed to address the issue of jitneys with the State Transportation Committee of which LANJ executive director Barry Lefkowitz is an appointed member. They also will work with the local chambers in the areas affected to see if they can garner support there. Additionally, they will address the issue legislatively by contacting champions at the state level in both houses to see what further can be done to address the issue.
Outrageous city fees
LANJ is also addressing the issue of Jersey City and Hoboken charging fees for limousines operators who are based in these communities. Hoboken is charging $750 per vehicle and Jersey City $500 per vehicle. This violates state law which mandates that the most that can be charged is $10 per vehicle and $50 per company. LANJ plans to meet with the two cities to resolve the issue.
MKT Town Car Gains Ground
The guest speaker at the event was Brad Roney, Specialty Vehicle Business Manager of Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles. Roney reaffirmed Ford’s commitment to the limousine/livery industry, and has had a longstanding commitment as a leader in the business. He had a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, MKT Town Car and a Navigator L on display. The MKT Town Cars have begun showing up in dealership showrooms.
Roney explained that the MKT is uniquely designed with clients’ in mind. It has greater legroom and easier entry and exit. It was built on a proven high volume platform that the police interceptor vehicles are built on as well as the Ford Taurus. The MKT Tonw Car costs $2,000 more than the Lincoln Town Car Executive L. Ford has more than 800 orders in the system for the vehicle, he said.