While the numbers are hard to pin down, the reality is drivers don't make much when factoring out overhead costs.
Florida Limousine Association
Gov. Bush Commends Industry
Gov. Jeb Bush has commended the Florida Limousine Association for its fund-raising efforts and for the vital role the limousine industry plays in Florida’s economy.
In a letter sent to attendees of the association’s second annual Limousine Roadeo, Bush praised members for their “commitment to safety while transporting Floridians with flair and elegance.” Bush cited the association’s involvement in the Prom Pledge program and with Mothers Against Drunk Driving as key contributions to the welfare of the community. FLA represents limousine operators in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
The roadeo raised money for the James Jr. Fund, a charity that helps children with cancer receive life-saving treatments, and to help with the association’s lobbying efforts. Of the $3,500 raised at the event, $2,000 was slated for the James Jr. Fund.
Carla Boroday, president of the FLA, said the roadeo was a great opportunity for members to get to know each other better. “It was really a family event. We’re usually just discussing business, but that day we got to meet all the families and build friendships.”
Competition during the roadeo included an obstacle course for drivers, where vehicles from limo buses to stretches were used. A bounce house, pool, face painting and paddleboats were available for children, and even some adults joined the fun.
Boroday, who is also president of Associated Limousine, said FLA supports the James Jr. Fund because it is a local charity providing assistance to children. Recently, the fund recently provided a local girl suffering from leukemia with an experimental stem cell transplant that put her cancer into remission.
-- Kristen Force
Illinois Limousine Association
O’Hare Fee Proposal Eyed
A per-trip fee at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport has prompted the Illinois Limousine Association to develop a proposal that would make airport travel easier for operators and city officials.
Limousine operators must now pay a fee every time they exit the airport, a requirement that can become quite time consuming for a company that regularly provides airport transfers.
The ILA was working with the city’s Department of Revenue to develop a program that would assess and collect the fees on a quarterly basis, said Karen Renk, ILA’s executive director.
Details remained to be worked out. A method of counting the number of times a vehicle exits the airport, for example, would need to be developed.
Renk said operators would not be delayed while departing the airport and the city would not need staff collecting the fee at the airport.
In addition, the ILA was working closely with the Department of Consumer Affairs to create guidelines for the introduction of London-style taxis, which were expected to be operating in Chicago by the end of the year.
“The ILA wants to make sure they are licensed as either a taxi or a livery vehicle,” Renk said. “It does not support a hybrid license.”
She said operators were concerned that London-style taxis would be permitted to transport passengers without using a meter to determine the fare.
The Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the ILA to work with it on developing requirements, said Renk.
-- Kristen Force
Houston Limousine Association
IAH Parking Restrictions Cited
Smaller Houston operators may face parking restrictions at George Bush Intercontinental Airport that would put them at a competitive disadvantage with taxis and larger limousine companies.
Chauffeurs are now allowed to park in a designated area near baggage claim at each terminal.
The city’s Aviation Department, however, has proposed restricting limousines to a staging center it wants to build on the airport’s perimeter where drivers would wait for passengers, said David Schovajsa, president of the Limousine Association of Houston and CEO of Franklin Corporate Transportation.
Schovajsa said he was told that arrival information would be displayed on video monitors at the staging center.
The Houston City Council must approve the plan before any work can begin. If approved, it could be operational by early 2005.
Schovajsa said he has heard that city officials may build a temporary staging center. He said all operators with less than 10 vehicles who had contacted the association were against the proposal. Some larger companies capable of hiring meet and greeters were more accepting.
Limousine operators, in general, are concerned that clients who are in a hurry, or those who do not understand the policy, will take a taxi instead of waiting for a driver to be released from a holding area.
“This does not provide good customer service,” Schovajsa said. “Our passengers are bringing business to the city and this is not the way to treat them.”
-- Kristen Force
Philadelphia Regional Limousine
PHL Advises Parking Authority
The Philadelphia Regional Limousine Association is advising the city’s Parking Authority about cleaning up the local ground transportation industry.
The Parking Authority is assuming regulatory control of livery vehicles entering the city beginning July, taking it over from the state’s Public Utilities Commission, and has asked the association to work with it on safety and enforcement issues.
The Parking Authority is trying to decide on a maximum age before vehicles must be taken off the road and to establish guidelines for testing and training chauffeurs, among other things. The PRLA, along with other recommendations, was suggesting that colored stickers be used to mark legal vehicles.
PRLA President Nick Tropiano, who was appointed the limousine industry’s representative to a 10-person commission, said he remains cautiously optimistic about the outcome of the discussions.
The PRLA “supports an initiative to clean up the city,” Tropiano says. “The [Parking Authority] seems to want the same things we do. We’re just hoping honest people who are trying to make a living aren’t hurt by rules that are too restrictive.”
- Neil Weiss
West Florida Livery Association
Permit Policy Hinders Some
Individual county permits are creating an obstacle for operators who must navigate through several jurisdictions in the Tampa Bay area. A strict permit policy in Hillsborough County (Tampa) presents a hardship for limousine companies based in nearby counties.
The West Florida Livery Association was working with Hillsborough’s transportation commission to establish a policy that is fair for all companies.
Operators based in Hillsborough have few problems receiving a permit if they can prove sufficient need. Those from other counties, however, are more strictly regulated, said Dave Shaw, WFLA president.
“We want regulation and we support county permits, but we want fair regulation,” Shaw said. “If people meet the requirements, they should be able to get proper permits no matter where they’re from. Businesses are being unlawfully restricted right now.”
The transportation commission was cracking down on permit distribution in part because of the taxicab industry’s concerns that limousines were taking away business, Shaw said.
-- Kristen Force
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