Tough New Rules Would Slam California Limo Operators With More Costs

Posted on September 5, 2013

Page 1 of 2

[UPDATED 9/5/13 5:05 p.m. PDT w/limo size specifics; 3:55 p.m. PDT w/exact language from the bill]

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California limousine industry could be just days away from seeing legislation pass that would wallop operators with costly requirements to retrofit all existing limousines designed for 10 people or less with one or possibly two additional exit points by Jan. 1, 2016.

S.B. 109, sponsored by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, the Senate Majority Leader, would radically alter the safety requirements for stretch limousines, especially those carrying up to nine passengers [120-in./10-pack stretches or shorter] which so far have not been subject to safety inspections in the state of California.

If passed, the legislation stands to raise the costs of running stretch limousines in California and may force many operators to raise rates or just get out of the stretch limo niche entirely.

The strict legislation comes in the wake of the fatal May 4 stretch limousine fire near San Francisco in which five women celebrating a bachelorette party could not escape the limo, a 1999 Lincoln Town Car 120-in. stretch, as it was consumed by a fireball on the San Mateo Bridge. Four other women did get out and survived. A state investigation determined that the fire was caused by an obscure series of catastrophic factors that so far have not been identified as causes in any other stretch limousine fires or accidents. In addition, the limousine was carrying one passenger beyond its legal safety limit (in the limo compartment) and the chauffeur failed to immediately pull over when hearing the first warning of smoke from a passenger.

Long before the results of the investigation were announced by the California Highway Patrol on Aug. 19, Corbett and state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, were proposing sweeping new safety rules for stretch limousines. Hill is sponsoring S.B. 338, known as the fire extinguisher bill, which would require two fire extinguishers to be installed on every stretch limousine in the state of California and subject stretch limousines carrying 10 people (including driver) or fewer to annual safety inspections.

S.B. 109 would cover two major categories of limousines carrying up to 10 people (8 back + 2 front, or nine passengers plus chauffeur): 

  • All new limousines purchased after July 1, 2015 would be required to have a fifth door and one additional emergency exit, such as a pop-out window or a pop-out roof hatch.
  • All existing stretch limousines would need to have two additional exit points — either two pop-out windows OR one pop-out window and a pop-out roof hatch — installed no later than Jan. 1, 2016. According to the language in the proposed S.B. 109 bill, it "would prohibit any person from operating a limousine, in any city, county, or city and county that has been modified or extended for purposes of increasing vehicle length in an amount sufficient to accommodate additional passengers unless the limousine is equipped with at least two rear side doors and one or two rear windows that the rear seat passengers or all passengers of the vehicle may open from the inside of the vehicle in case of any fire or other emergency, as specified.. . . At least one push-out window shall be located on each side of the vehicle, unless the design of the limousine precludes the installation of a push-out window on one side of the vehicle, in which case the second push-out window shall instead be located in the roof of the vehicle. If the design of the limousine precludes the installation of even one push-out window on a side of the vehicle, one push-out window shall instead be located in the roof of the vehicle."

[NOTE: Chauffeured vehicles with 11 or more people (including driver) are already subject to state rules governing buses that require safety inspections and additional exit points]:

Lobbyists and leaders of the Greater California Livery Association are trying to amend the language in the proposed bill to change the retrofit deadline to Jan. 1, 2019, while requiring only one additional exit point for existing limousines and new limousines. The egress point could either be a fifth door OR a pop-out window; it would be a market decision for operators and coach builders, said Rob Grossglauser of Government Affairs Consulting in Sacramento, the lobbying firm representing the GCLA.

View comments or post a comment on this story. (9 Comments)

More News

Americans Are Right Not To Trust Self-Driving Cars

Opinion: Washington Post writer Jason Levine says we should be concerned about a lack of oversight and absence of corporate caution in the rush to be first.

LANY Gears Up To Tackle Wide Range Of Issues Sept. 19

Group president says limousine industry faces a regulatory crisis in New York.

Could We See The Return Of The Chauffeur Gate-Meet?

The TSA is allowing non-fliers at the Pittsburgh airport to visit terminals beyond the security lines.

Feds Withdraw Proposed Sleep Apnea Rule For Drivers

But ongoing treatment cannot be stopped and a certified medical examiner can still ask for tests before operating a commercial vehicle.

NYC Wheelchair Rule Unites Opposition From For-Hire Industry

Livery cabs, limos, Uber, and Lyft combat a Taxi and Limousine Commission accessibility mandate.

See More News

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (9)

Post a Comment



See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - September 2017 $12.95 MOTORCOACH / BUS ISSUE COVER STORY: * Irizar Racks Up A Good Rookie Year * *


Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close