Sunday, October 02, 2022

The Illinois Limousine and Bus Association held the July edition of Coffee With ILLBA educational Zoom series on Tuesday, July 19. Eschewing the usual guest speaker format, this month’s webinar was an open roundtable called Ask the Board Anything. This lively Q&A allowed attendees to share information about and possible solutions to hot-button topics faced by operators in the Midwest and beyond.


The webinar was launched by ILLBA Vice President Tracy Raimer of Windy City Limousine & Bus, who welcomed attendees and introduced the ILLBA Board. The discussion immediately got underway as attendees offered their two cents on whether they are adding or removing vehicles from their fleets. With vehicles in short supply (particularly executive vans and sedans), the participants debated the pros and cons of utilizing the new Jeep Wagoneer in our space as well as the benefits of supplementing fleets with sedans versus SUVs.

From there, the talk moved to rates and whether the rising prices seen since the pandemic have finally plateaued. The consensus among the attendees was that clients don’t mind paying more for luxury ground transportation provided that superior service—and safety—are consistently delivered. In fact, ILLBA President Art Rento of Pontarelli Companies stated that a rising crime rate in Chicago is the biggest issue he’s currently facing. Other operators noted that they are finding staff from former Chicago Transit Authority employees who left their job due to concerns about personal safety.

Another hot topic explored was delays at airports, due to the shortage of manpower. Some operators have seen delays of more than three hours at baggage claim, leading them to change the way they bill clients arriving on international flights. While some have taken to billing international arrivals as charter time (i.e., a two-hour minimum), ILLBA Executive Director Paula DeBiasi of Chicago Coachworks recommended that operators institute a one-hour spot time for travelers coming in from abroad.

The conversation then moved to insurance matters, chiefly the requirements for airport pickups. Operators on the webinar vented their frustration about the coverage discrepancy between the TNCs and our industry.

Before the meeting ended, attendees shared what’s working in regard to adding new staff and drivers. Overwhelmingly, it was agreed by participants that job sites like Indeed are not as effective for hiring long-term employees; instead, it appears that referrals and word-of-mouth are particularly beneficial for onboarding chauffeurs.

This month’s Coffee With ILLBA seminar was recorded and will be available on the association’s YouTube channel here.

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INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing recently unveiled its brand-new armored Lexus LX 600—enhancing the already highly sought-after model with discreet 360-degree protection and advanced security features. The company also produces highly specialized armored vehicles on other platforms, including the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and Cadillac Escalade.

INKAS INKAS Armored Lexus LX exterior

With a new 3.5L V-6 twin turbo engine with 409 hp, and equipped with a 10-speed sequential-shift transmission, INKAS says the armored LX 600 is as tough and reliable as it is luxurious, boasting the most advanced technology for critical VIPs. The vehicle comes in a variety of seating configurations, including the standard 5-seat layout, various 7-seat layouts, and an ultra-premium 4-seat VIP layout.

INKAS INKAS Armored Lexus LX interior

“Despite the significant fundamental redesign Lexus made to the newest generation of its leading SUV, the INKAS team was eager to undertake the immense challenge of completely reengineering the core ballistic components and design of its earlier LX 570 armored model,” said INKAS Co-Founder and Chairwoman Margarita Simkin. “I am thrilled to say that INKAS has successfully engineered the new armored LX 600 with meticulous precision, maintaining the integrity and exacting quality that both INKAS and Lexus are renowned for.”

INKAS INKAS Armored Lexus LX

The vehicle achieves ballistic protection that meets the CEN 1063 BR6 standard, according to INKAS, ensuring the vehicle can withstand attacks from 7.62mm assault rifle ammunition, as well as the explosion of two DM51 hand grenades detonated simultaneously. INKAS’ proprietary armoring system integrates features such as reinforced suspension, a door frame overlap system, engine and fuel tank armoring, ballistic glass, run-flat tires, and underbody fortification to secure all critical structure points and provide full-perimeter protection.

A variety of add-on equipment and tactical upgrades are available, including night-vision cameras, heavy-duty wheels, door-assist systems, engine bay fire suppression systems, and emergency escape solutions. Additionally, INKAS has developed its own exclusive 10-piston heavy-duty braking system which will be available as an upgrade by the end of 2022.

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The Transportation Alliance TTA

The Transportation Alliance (TTA)—formerly the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA)—announced a preliminary agenda for Mobilize 2022, its upcoming Annual Convention & Expo. The association’s 104th convention will be held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas this October 31-November 2.

The Transportation Alliance TTA TTA President Judy Potter of Black & White Transportation

“Time and time again, I hear from TTA members about the value of our Annual Convention & Expo,” said TTA President Judy Potter in a press release from the association. “Our convention brings together industry professionals from all over the world, and I know from my own experience that the resources and information that Mobilize offers are invaluable to fleet operators looking to network and expand their businesses.”

The Transportation Alliance TTA Caesars Palace in Las Vegas

In addition to its Expo Hall, which features dozens of exhibitors connected to the ground transportation industry, the convention boasts committee meetings, networking opportunities, and dedicated educational sessions (General Sessions and Learning Labs). According to the association, session topics will include non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) credentialing and training, business diversification, camera systems for claims management and security, vehicle collision avoidance systems, finding the right insurance coverage, partnering with TNCs like Uber, and winning new contracts.

For more information about registering, exhibiting, or sponsoring, click here.