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We're at that point on the annual LCT calendar when my stomach turns a knot or two. We are about to publish our most controversial and inflammatory content item of the year, the annual 50 Largest Fleets List in the August issue.
The annual List gets a lot of attention and makes money, but also brings plenty of criticism and grief. I’ve heard it all by now, my eighth cycle supervising this list. I won’t wander into the weeds on all sides and views, but I will assert two points:
1) If we don’t do the list, someone else will. All business magazines have Forbes-style lists as a key industry metric.
2) The list DOES NOT confer the quality of service, operations or financial performance. It only provides a snapshot in time of those companies that manage the most owned or leased vehicles. Any small limousine fleet company can surpass the operational quality of a larger one. [We keep saying that year after year].
With that said, we've tried different approaches each year. What keeps us relying on self-reported fleet numbers is the fact of government ineptitude. That’s right; we and you should blame the government for unverified fleet results.
In an ideal situation, we would simply report the total number of all licensed and permitted limousine fleet records based on publicly recorded registrations. Good luck with that.
This year, we tasked an LCT employee several months ago to contact all the agencies and departments that regulate and license limousine fleet vehicles to get the three largest limousine fleets in each state. That should be simple enough given that each state somehow manages to track, renew and revoke driver’s licenses via their respective DMVs. So, why wouldn’t government manage the same thoroughness with commercially licensed vehicles?
Of the near-50 regulating agencies that could be reached, and some local ones in states where vehicles are licensed at that level, only a handful actually supplied some coherent, usable numbers we could refer to. This is beyond pathetic, derelict, incompetent, lazy, disorganized. This is government as a pot-headed teenager at his worst.
My outrage is justified by the fact that state and local governments take upon themselves the right to license, regulate and extract money from limousine operators. ALL agencies that regulate limousine vehicles are funded by taxpayers and governed by public records laws. That means if a fleet company registers a vehicle for the purpose of conducting commerce, it creates a paper/computer paper trail of records available to the public. In the era of Internet, computers and micro-data records, such a failure for a taxpayer-funded organization to make available simple and basic public information underscores government inefficiency. As taxed citizens, we’re paying for this. That makes the poor recordkeeping and lack of accountability all the more appalling.
I realize this is all too typical of government, and tales of public sector travesties abound. But let’s at least keep calling things out for what they really are: A level of service and stupidity that no business could ever survive.
Related article: Government Workers Absent More Than Private Sector Ones
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