LILA board members at March 27 member meeting. Back Row (L-R): Charles Gandolfo, Dynasty Limousine; Doug Schwartz, Executive Limousine; Robert Cunningham, Platinum Limousines; Tony DiBenedetto, Cruise Control Limousines; Mike Winn, Crossroads Limousine; Matt Silver, Ultimate Class Limousines. Front Row (L-R): Michael Fargnoli, Precious Moment Limousine; Robert Xavier, Legend Limousines; Susan Boyce, Class A Limousines; Loren Denning, Class A Limousines
[UPDATED: 4/3/13 at 03:16 p.m. ET/12:16 p.m. PT]
PLAINVIEW, N.Y. — Members of the Long Island Limousine Association (LILA) met for its bi-monthly meeting Tuesday night where they addressed the potential for creating a new regulatory commission for Suffolk County and the ongoing activities of Nassau’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC). The association includes limousine operators mostly from Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Suffolk County started the process to form a countywide taxi and limousine commission like that of neighboring Nassau County. The county has invited Robert Xavier, LILA’s Suffolk County director, to participate in a steering committee to guide future policies and regulations, and provide a perspective on how the commission should look from the operator point of view.
New: “We are eager for the Suffolk County TLC to be formed, as it will level the playing field for legitimate, properly-registered and insured operators,” said Xavier. “Because there is currently no TLC, legitimate operators are being undersold on every ride by illegal operators who are running vehicles that are not properly registered and insured, therefore able to provide services at a much lower rate.”
Though the association welcomes the creation of a Suffolk County TLC, LILA president Robert Cunningham expressed concerns on how potential regulations could affect small operators running businesses from their residences.
“It’s going to cause a problem,” he said. “I don’t see any way around that because Nassau County did the same thing and it made it hard for a lot of people if they don’t want you doing business out of your house anymore.”
The county is receptive to LILA’s input, Cunningham said. “I have to convince people that you don’t want to put people out of work; that the county is going to lose revenue over it. You don’t want that to happen.”
New: The county doesn’t expect the commission to be seated until this fall. At LILA’s next meeting on May 28, Xavier hopes to present an official copy of the Suffolk County TLC regulations and codes and strongly encourages all LILA members to attend.
Nassau County TLC
The association also invited a representative from the Nassau County TLC to brief members on what the county is doing to crack down on rogue operators. Kenneth Heino, executive assistant to the Nassau County Commissioner of Consumer Affairs, recognized that illegal operators are a safety threat to the public as well as a nuisance for association membership. “We want to get the unlicensed operators off the streets,” Heino said.
Illegals operators are especially problematic during the spring prom season. LILA believes more could be done to enforce current county regulations.
The county has stepped up enforcement against gypsy taxis and limousines by keeping an eye out for unlicensed vehicles and those violating vehicle capacity, especially stretched limos packed with kids during prom season, Heino said. Of note is that the final say on the legal capacity of vehicles is what is stated on the Department of Motor Vehicle registration.
Heino also encouraged association members to report any illegal operators to the Nassau County TLC, which can be done anonymously. A complaint can be filed with the Consumer Affairs Taxi and Limousine Commission by calling 516-571-2600.
— Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor