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Operators from the Virginia Limousine Association, Maryland Limousine Association, and the Washington Metropolitan Limousine Association gathered Monday evening in Sterling, Va., to rally against a proposed fee hike for vehicle permits to provide transportation during next month's Presidential Inauguration weekend.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Capital area limousine operators providing transportation during Presidential Inauguration weekend next month will see speedier permit approvals and only a minimal fee increase from the DC Taxicab Commission, according to an agency press release issued Friday afternoon.
The special permits for out-of-market vehicles-for-hire, which includes luxury chauffeured transportation vehicles, will cost $150 per vehicle, compared to $125 per vehicle for Inauguration transportation access four years ago. The permits will be valid from 5 p.m. Jan. 18, 2013 until 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, with President Obama being sworn in for his second term at Noon on Sunday, Jan. 20 at the Capitol. The DCTC deadline for the special permits is Friday, Jan. 4.
For the first time, operators will be able to download the applications online instead of standing in line for several hours at the commission offices, which was the case four years ago, said Dan Goff, Vice President of the Virginia Limousine Association.
The fee structure and online application procedure was met with collective relief throughout the D.C. area limousine industry as an initial proposal from the DCTC had called for a special permit fee increase to $500 per vehicle. Such a whopping fee hike would have made chauffeured transportation prohibitively expense for many chauffeured clients needing to travel to and from three major airports, area hotels, and Inauguration-related events and venues.
The quadrennial Presidential Inauguration is a major source of revenue for chauffeured transportation companies during a slow business period of the year. D.C.-area operators use their entire fleets for the event, in addition to bringing in additional vehicles from affiliates, contractors, and rental car providers.
The higher fee was the subject of an inter-association meeting Monday night in Sterling, Va., that was organized by VLA President Glenn Stafford, Maryland Limousine Association President Joanna Fridinger, and the Washington Metropolitan Limousine Association President Paul Rodberg. The meeting was hosted by Tony Simon, COO of Reston Limousine, and moderated by Goff.
About 60 operators attended the meeting, and several voiced concerns about the fees and rules. National Limousine Association board directors Robert Alexander and Richard Kane, who both own Washington, D.C. area chauffeured transportation companies, took up the matter with NLA President Diane Forgy, who wrote a letter to DCTC Chairman Ron M. Linton explaining the needs of chauffeured operators for reasonable fees and their willingness to work with the agency to ensure safe, efficient and legal transportation service. The three NLA leaders then met with Linton to negotiate a favorable outcome.
“We are very gratified with the outcome,” Goff told LCT. “We had a nice increase in association(s) member participation and many had a hand in this success for a lot of people.”
Forgy told LCT Friday evening: "All the communication happened this week very quickly. Joanna made me aware of the issue over the weekend with the announced fees being $500 per vehicle for a 45 day permit. Monday evening the D.C., Virginia and Maryland associations met and elected to have the NLA initially take the lead and contact the DCTC. I conferred with Richard Kane, Robert Alexander as well as our legal counsel and lobbyists to determine the best course of action. After discussions with DCTC Chairman Ron Linton throughout the week, we were able to come to a more amicable arrangement of a $150 permit fee for a 5-day period. I commend Chairman Linton for responding to our concerns given the magnitude of the transportation needs for the Inauguration."