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RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia state slogan has long been Virginia Is For Lovers, but given recent transportation industry expansions, it might as well be Virginia Is For Limos.
The latest growth comes from Richmond, Va.-based James Limousine, which at 23 vehicles has the largest luxury transportation fleet based in the state capital. Owner Randy Allen plans to start local service Sept. 1 in the Charlottesville/Albemarle County region about 55 miles up Interstate 64.
Allen will base one Lincoln Town Car sedan in the city for starters, and run other fleet vehicles and support functions out of his headquarters on the west side of Richmond. He eventually plans to base more vehicles out of Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia, as business grows.
“This is an excellent market with a lot of potential,” Allen told LCT. “It has a 14% growth rate in population over the last 10 years and is ranked as one of best cities to live in. The average household income is very good.”
Indeed, Charlottesville historically is synonymous with the land of Declaration of Independence author and third President Thomas Jefferson. In addition to the Jefferson-designed UVa, Albemarle County also is home to the Jefferson estate of Monticello, his boyhood home of Shadwell, and the historic Michie Tavern. Along with such world-renowned and prestigious historical sites, Allen also wants to tap into the region’s growing winery market spread among the bucolic foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
James Limousine is set to get national exposure when the company is mentioned in the October issue of Southern Living magazine as a regional wine tour provider in an article about the Monticello wine trail and its growing appeal to tourists nationwide. The region also is known for its prime horse-breeding farms and racing tracks.
“Charlottesville has always been a market that held my interest since we bought the company in Richmond,” said Allen, also the newly elected president of the Virginia Limousine Association. “I attended UVa and lived in Charlottesville for one year so I can appreciate the potential for that area. That market will now receive the quality of service we’ve been providing in Richmond for many years.”
As James Limousine grows from Richmond to Charlottesville, two other companies in the state are doing the same. As reported on LCTmag.com, Charlottesville-based A. Goff Transportation plans to pursue more business in Richmond, northern Virginia, and southeastern Virginia that stretches from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach, the largest city in the state. It’s also seeing success with its dedicated motorcoach line-run between Charlottesville and New York City.
Meanwhile, James River Transportation, a charter bus and luxury transportation company based in Richmond, is shedding its Carey franchise to focus more on its Interstate 95 private commuter services to northern Virginia and intensify efforts in its central business turf stretching from Richmond to Virginia Beach. James River has seen much success with its Ford Flex-fleet dedicated to transportation at the Norfolk International Airport in recent years.
The competition among the Virginia operators capitalizes on the state’s unique geographic variation as well as its position along the Eastern seaboard. The mid-Atlantic state is bisected by Interstate 95 that connects the Washington, D.C. to Boston megalopolis in the Northeast with the teeming cities of the South, including Raleigh-Durham, N.C., Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Jacksonville, Fla., and Orlando. Within the state, its distinctive mountain, piedmont and flat coastal tidal regions lend themselves to ripe, vibrant markets for chauffeured and charter transportation: Charlottesville, with its university, corporate, research and historical tourist base; Richmond with its state government and corporate base; the northern Virginia suburban and exurban sprawl emanating from the Washington, D.C. Beltway power center; and the military, defense, maritime, and colonial-era historic concentrations of the Newport News-Norfolk/Virginia Beach region.
“With UVa and its medical center as a foundation, there is a strong corporate market in Charlottesville,” Allen said. “Research and technology companies are drawn around the university. One-third of the population turns over every few years. The market is ripe for penetration.”
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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