Tuesday, March 19, 2019

GCLAL to R: Kevin Illingworth of Classique Worldwide Transportation, Chris Quinn of Corporate Transportation Solutions, Rich Azzolino of Gateway Global, and Alex Darbahani of KLS Worldwide listen intently during a meetingSacramento, Calif.—Greater California Livery Association’s recent San Francisco meeting was a general meeting to update area members on GCLA initiatives. GCLA’s board and a dozen or more operators discussed the same issues at their Day on the Hill in Sacramento this past February 26. GCLA lobbyist Greg Cook of Government Affairs Consulting was in fine form with six meetings scheduled throughout the day. The association met with assembly members, senators, staffers, and policy makers to confer about key issues.

State Bill (SB) 611 is Senator Jerry Hill’s (D, 13th district) newly reintroduced 2014 bill to replace SB 338 that was vetoed last year by Gov. Jerry Brown due to California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) pricing on inspections. GCLA’s goal is to cap the CHP inspection costs after CHP analyzes the best and most efficient way to inspect vehicles. That may mean having centralized locations which could be a hardship for some operators in more remote areas. Sen. Hill is interested in the chauffeured ground transportation industry and very supportive overall, seeking GCLA’s advice regularly. GCLA opposes the bill as it is currently written, but its board is confident that a reasonable way can be found to push it into its final stages.

State Bill (SB) 109 was next on the agenda. This is the (in)famous bill that was drafted after the horrific limousine fire in August 2013 that killed five women. SB109 became law in January 2014 but there is no known impact, as of yet, on the industry. By requiring five points of egress on stretched vehicles the speculation is that some operators may simply go out of business and will have to sell their vehicles out of state. No vehicle manufacturer, or retrofitter, has yet engineered a way to build this vehicle. If the requirement or design includes a roof exit, GCLA believes safety issues will be compounded by irresponsible passengers who, because they must be able to open the exit themselves, will act recklessly; much worse than the issue caused by a sun/moon roof. In addition, the wiring that runs in the roof could be a problem and possible source of more fires. While SB 109 is already law, GCLA’s goal was to open the ears of other house members to consider a shell, extension, or other modification(s) at an appropriate time. At the very least, a plan to “grandfather” in current vehicles would be most helpful to smaller operators throughout the state.

The topic switched then to efforts to streamline the various processes the chauffeured ground transportation industry must endure in the state of California. In California, all vehicles are permitted, inspected, and reviewed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), DMV, DOT, CHP, and multiple airports; each organization having its own set of criteria. GCLA is working to streamline this to efficiently provide permitting and livery plate access while coordinating with solid enforcement. Several house members suggested that GCLA write up its own bill for them to present. This idea was taken under advisement.

Of course, TNCs (transportation network companies) were also a hot topic of debate and conjecture, as Uber and the other apps tend to be. TNCs are not currently able to operate at California airports, but it has been difficult for the airports to recognize the vehicles because there is no permitting and TCP process for the “rogue” vehicles. GCLA’s goal, as it is for many of the other associations, is to level the playing field, having TNC operations being held to the same safety standards and regulations that they currently have now. From insurance limits to random testing, GCLA views this as a safety issue that could reflect poorly on legitimate livery/charter companies.

At the end of day, the consensus among GCLA members was that having operators speak directly with those on the Hill helped their lobbyists be more effective. Therefore, plans are already in motion to attend this again next year.

Visit gcla.org for more information.

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