Charlotte —The Charlotte Regional Limousine Association (CRLA) began 2017 with plans in place to benefit the industry it serves as well as fight for a level playing field in the North Carolina city with the state’s strictest—and only—ground transportation regulations.
CRLA Vice President Shawn Glasgow of Peak Limousine said that while the association cancelled its January 4 meeting, the board has been working hard to enact changes in the laws governing their companies, since TNCs get a free pass in Charlotte while operators are hit with hefty regulatory fees to remain legal outfits.
“We have achieved quite a bit of those goals: I would say half of our current policies are changing with the ordinances but they have to go through city council to be approved,” Glasgow said. “If that works, we have achieved success for our local market. Is it a level playing field? No. And it will never be level because of the main fact that our state mandates that our local city cannot govern Uber. So their hands are tied, and we’re moving our fight to the state.”
It is, however, difficult to seek neighboring companies’ assistance, as calling for background checks and fingerprinting for TNC drivers would also mean imposing those new regulations on other chauffeured transportation companies.
“Charlotte is the only city in North Carolina that has regulations, so why would any other city, county, suburb, want to help an organization fight statewide to make Uber fingerprint background-checked when they don’t have to have it either?” Glasgow said. “We would be forcing this city’s view on the entire state, and I don’t think our local friends would like it if we got the entire state to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to mandate that Uber drivers needs a background check—but that means all of your chauffeurs will have to be background-checked and fingerprinted, too.’”
Now armed with a lawyer, CRLA’s next goal is to “get in front of the state representatives and plead our case.”
“We do have help from our city’s attorney,” Glasgow said. “He is an advocate for leveling the playing field but he’s also an attorney for the city. All he can do legally is make recommendations based on what he hears, what we need to change, what we’re requesting; however, he said that if we get ourselves in front of whatever division we need to talk to to get these laws changed and they requsest that he makes a presence in Raleigh on behalf of Charlotte, he will say exactly what needs to be said. So we do have an advocate who will speak for us on the city side.”
Additionally, Glasgow said that while the removal of all the city’s ordinances is not possible and would actually create a whole new host of problems by dismantling the entire preexisting structure, CRLA has seen the number of regulations that its members and regional operators are expected to abide by cut in half.
“The city will not removes its ordinances, so all our attorney can do is to make recommendations to remove some of the red tape,” Glasgow explained. “He has reduced our ordinances and requirements to half of what they were—like getting fined $50 for not wearing a name tag on your suit.”
While Glasgow said that “it could be next week, it could be July, it could be September” until the ordinances that CRLA is backing are passed—like dramatically reducing the time it takes to put new chauffeurs behind the wheel from two-and-a-half months to about weeks—he is optimistic that they will ultimately pass.
“These ordinances have been restructured and reorganized and are now sitting on the next agenda for the Safety Council meeting, and once they unanimously approve it, then it goes to the City Council for a vote,” Glasgow said. “At least the attorney has rewritten it, and everything he has suggested in the past has gone in his favor.”
The next CRLA meeting will be February 1.
Visit mycrla.org for more information.