Regulations

New Jersey Operators Get Scoop, Advice On Major Issues

Posted on March 28, 2012
Edward Vergopia Jr. (L) of Empire Coachworks International hosted the March 21, 2012 meeting of the Limousine Associations of New Jersey where Brad Roney of Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles reported a strong opening order trend for the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car.

Edward Vergopia Jr. (L) of Empire Coachworks International hosted the March 21, 2012 meeting of the Limousine Associations of New Jersey where Brad Roney of Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles reported a strong opening order trend for the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car.

Edward Vergopia Jr. (L) of Empire Coachworks International hosted the March 21, 2012 meeting of the Limousine Associations of New Jersey where Brad Roney of Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles reported a strong opening order trend for the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car.
Edward Vergopia Jr. (L) of Empire Coachworks International hosted the March 21, 2012 meeting of the Limousine Associations of New Jersey where Brad Roney of Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles reported a strong opening order trend for the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car.

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The Limousine Associations of New Jersey (LANJ) hosted a packed event Wednesday, March 21 at Empire Coachworks International in East Brunswick, bringing together vendors and regulators to confront several critical issues facing the state’s limousine industry.

Open meetings

Before the regular meeting, the LANJ board met at an open board meeting following a recent vote to hold open board meetings and to invite association members to attend these meetings as a way of being transparent in their proceedings.

Jitneys not too jolly
Board members once again addressed the issue of jitneys. Operators close to shore towns and the Atlantic City airport are seeing the jitneys in use at the airport and performing door-to-door service as well as weddings. In New Jersey, jitneys are not called out by the transportation authority. They initially were used as niche transportation in Atlantic City. Today, they have expanded their reach serving other communities. The problem with the jitneys is that they are operating in a gray area not being addressed by regulators. The jitneys do not have DOT numbers which are required of limousine companies for vehicles carrying the same number of passengers. The vehicles do not have seat belts. They are a subsidized form of transportation by the New Jersey Transit Authority but the parameters of their operation are not defined.

Additionally, the insurance issues are not being addressed for jitneys. Limousine companies in New Jersey carry $1.5 million minimally in insurance coverage.  Jitneys only carry $115,000 in insurance and use the omnibus plates which are used by taxis. Chauffeurs in New Jersey require certification by the state which only can be obtain once the individual is drug tested, background tested and their motor vehicle driving record is reviewed. Jitney drivers do not have the same requirements. Operators in these areas would like to see them put on a level playing field with them.

The LANJ board has committed to address the issue of jitneys with the State Transportation Committee of which LANJ executive director Barry Lefkowitz is an appointed member. They also will work with the local chambers in the areas affected to see if they can garner support there. Additionally, they will address the issue legislatively by contacting champions at the state level in both houses to see what further can be done to address the issue.

Outrageous city fees
LANJ is also addressing the issue of Jersey City and Hoboken charging fees for limousines operators who are based in these communities. Hoboken is charging $750 per vehicle and Jersey City $500 per vehicle.  This violates state law which mandates that the most that can be charged is $10 per vehicle and $50 per company. LANJ plans to meet with the two cities to resolve the issue.

MKT Town Car Gains Ground
The guest speaker at the event was Brad Roney, Specialty Vehicle Business Manager of Ford Fleet Limousine & Livery Vehicles. Roney reaffirmed Ford’s commitment to the limousine/livery industry, and has had a longstanding commitment as a leader in the business. He had a Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, MKT Town Car and a Navigator L on display. The MKT Town Cars have begun showing up in dealership showrooms.

Roney explained that the MKT is uniquely designed with clients’ in mind. It has greater legroom and easier entry and exit. It was built on a proven high volume platform that the police interceptor vehicles are built on as well as the Ford Taurus. The MKT Tonw Car costs $2,000 more than the Lincoln Town Car Executive L. Ford has more than 800 orders in the system for the vehicle, he said.
Employees vs. independent contractors
LANJ also invited Ted Easton, the chief of enforcement for the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, to discuss the issue of W-2 vs 1099 employees. He stated the easiest way to identify an independent contractor is if he 1) Has a business card of his own; 2) Is working for multiple companies; 3) Pays his own workers’ compensation. He explained that issue is control. If you restrict an individual by telling him he cannot work for anyone else, then he is an employee. He also explained that chauffeurs are exempt from overtime at the state level.

As a means of making all member operators properly aware of what they need to do to comply with the daily operation of their businesses, LANJ also invited Motor Vehicle Commission Deputy Administrator Selika Gore to discuss compliance registration and criminal background checks. Gore explained that under a new law, CDL drivers will also need a medical examiner’s certificate. The state is also creating a chauffeur endorsement for its licenses. This will replace the current chauffeur certificate. Chauffeurs with out of state licenses will continue to need the certificate. The state is retraining its agencies so that everyone will understand the new requirements. Gore said that the administration is committed to making government work more smoothly for the industry.

Boosting association support
Like other associations nationwide, LANJ is addressing the problem of declining membership and budget shortfalls. LANJ was once the largest organized limousine association in the country with high balances in its checking account.  As of this meeting, membership was down by about 25 companies and the budget surpluses had been completely depleted. The LANJ board has committed to reverse the situation by the next meeting on May 9. The association will be sending out dues notices to all past members and will be hosting a number of fund raisers to reinvigorate their accounts.

Lobbyist grows firm
Barry Lefkowitz announced that he has expanded his lobbying and consulting  firm, Mangement and Government Resources Inc. (MGR), by partnering with Peggy Katherine (Crabtree) Buffoni. Buffoni was the LANJ contact for Extensis, an employee leasing organization which has been a big financial supporter to LANJ. She left Extensis some time ago working on independent transportation projects. Buffoni will be working on sales and marketing for MGR.

— Reported by Linda Jagiela for LCT E-News/LCTMag.com

Related Topics: Barry Lefkowitz, Empire Coach, employee vs independent contractor, Ford, industry regulations, LANJ, Lincoln, Lincoln MKT, New Jersey operators, state regulations

Comments ( 2 )
  • Tom Woodruff

     | about 6 years ago

    Atlantic City Jitneys carry a minimum of $500,000 insurance. More than 75% of the drivers carry $1,000,000, although not mandatory. The $115,000 quote in the article is incorrect. In the future I would suggest that research be conducted first in order to ensure accuracy and credibility.

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