Luxury Coach & Transportation

March 2019

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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56 WWW.LCTMAG.COM LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION MARCH 2019 MARTIN ROMJUE Bad Rules Need Not Apply MARCH 2019 EDITOR'S EDGE H ow well would your business run if entire categories of fleet vehicles were banned and you were forbidden to send them to help affiliates across state lines? I'd venture your operation would either be peeling out or going into a final skid. Two recent regulatory duds in New York and Georgia, if they could be combined, would trigger such results. Luxury transportation operators in each state are trying to ward off those bad actions — one a proposal, the other a practice. ey prove how this industry and business sectors across America must spend resources squashing absurd, harmful, and ma- lign regulations that hurt the public, but put a halo over do- gooder pols. Ban Stretch Limousines? As part of the state's 2020 fiscal budget, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed banning all modified stretch limousines statewide in a sweeping pack- age of safety rules. e measure stems from the Oct. 6, 2018 stretch limousine crash in Schoharie that killed 20 people, for which an exact cause has not been determined as of this writing. It's one of the most extreme and stunning measures ever devised to supposedly solve a problem. Fortunately, two industry operators and lead- ers, Doug Schwartz of the Long Island Transportation Associa- tion and the National Limousine As- sociation, and Kevin Barwell of the Lim- ousine Bus Taxi Operators of Upstate New York, traveled to the State Capitol in Albany to testify at a joint budget hearing. e leaders laid out the obvious: Banning all stretches would kill jobs, lower tax revenues, hurt businesses, and deprive the public of a safe and enjoyable form of transpor- tation often used for proms, weddings, and leisure outings. Schwartz and Barwell pointed out how airplanes still fly and school buses still roll after fatal crashes. No one bans them. "It would be like telling Trailways or Grey Line you can't use buses anymore, or telling a pizzeria you can't sell pizza," Bar- well told the legislative panel. Special Event Slowdowns? e following weekend Atlanta operators worried about a lack of chauffeured vehicles to supply the demand from Super Bowl travelers. Georgia Public Safety Com- missioner Col. Mark McDonough decreed no out-of- state luxury vehicles that are not insured and regis- tered in Georgia would be allowed to cross state lines and help operators transport the blitz of corporate executives, NFL officials, celebrities, sponsors, and VIPs swooping in for the big game. at was pro- jected to leave Atlanta operators about 300-400 vehicles short. e Greater Atlanta Limousine Association, led by president and local operator Jeff Greene, himself a former police officer, tried in vain in the months ahead to get the needed vehicle permits and urge the commis- sioner to relent. A last ditch appeal to Gov. Brian Kemp went nowhere, as two days before one of the city's most high profile hosted events, Kemp demurred and supported "the Colonel." e city of Atlanta had allowed out-of-state commercial vehicles to work the 1996 Olympics and the 2000 Super Bowl, so there was no valid reason to ban them this time. It was just plain old stubborn, misinformed bureaucratic posturing and pride. e Department of Public Safety could have tak- en any number of reasonable steps in the year leading up to the Super Bowl, such as permitting fleet vehicles from states that match or exceed the insurance, safety, and licens- ing rules in Georgia. But logic was not in the mix. Greene told me afterward local operators tried their best to find statewide affiliates and rented vehicles, and sched- uled fleets as efficiently as possible. But GALA will seek legislation to prevent a repeat of this spectacle. Common Sense Meets Zealotry e dramas in New York and Georgia reflect a wider trend in our political cul- ture where political and regulatory elites with little or no business experience too often try to micro-manage sectors they either disdain or know nothing about. Small business owners, includ- ing limousine and bus operators, bring a deep practi- cal knowledge of how rules work and which ones are fair. After all, they and their employees are immersed in the daily grind of working the roadways and serving the public 24/7. ere's nothing like having to deliver safe, quality transpor- tation while meeting payroll and earning a heavily taxed liv- ing to breed sturdy common sense. In the week after the Super Bowl, I observed a pre-lob- bying meeting of the Greater California Livery Association where its leaders readied for their annual legislative visits to the State Capitol in Sacramento. eir strategy could be ap- plied beyond the stately Capitol corridors of one of the least business friendly states in the Union. Among the directives in visiting legislators and their staff members: Tell them about your industry, business, work, em- ployees, and presence in their districts. Share the stories of real people doing good things, and why some rules work and others flop. Be clear, confident, and stick to the key points of what you seek. Respect your hosts' time and positions. Don't whine or complain. Remind them of consequences from apathy. Make public safety and com- petitive fair play top goals. Offer solutions. In today's hyper-charged and partisan political climate, such a genuine and forthright approach sounds counter-intuitive. But it could stand out and encourage more listening all around. When you consider the alternatives, it's the only ap- proach that can succeed. martin@lctmag.com Politicians too often resort to extreme ideas when trying to solve straightforward problems.

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