Wednesday, February 21, 2024

L to R: WFLA President Dave Shaw of Olympus Limo & Sedan Service, FLA President Rick Versace of A1A Airport & Limousine Service, GOLA President Cliff Wright of Royal Transportation Group, and SFLA President Neil Goodman of Aventura Worldwide Transportation Service Atlantic City, N.J. — The Florida Limousine Association (FLA) meeting held at the Chauffeur Driven Show on November 3 saw an audience composed of neighboring and far-ranging regional organizations’ members alike, demonstrating the ground transportation industry’s readiness to band together in the face of TNCs’ continued encroachment. Members from the Greater Orlando Limousine Association (GOLA), South Florida Limousine Association (SFLA), and West Florida Livery Association (WFLA) attended the meeting, as did representatives from the Illinois Limousine Association (ILA), Long Island Limousine Association (LILA), and Minority Limousine Operators of America (MLOA).

The meeting kicked off with a few words from the newly installed Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA) President Mike Fogarty of Tristar Worldwide. He described the ongoing war against TNCs as “the battle of our lives,” promising that “we’re going to win some battles, we’re going to lose some battles, but we’re going to fight,” and encouraging all in attendance to take comfort in the increasingly negative media coverage about unregulated transportation services.

Barry Lefkowitz, industry lobbyist and former executive director of the Limousine Association of New Jersey (LANJ), continued the call for a unified front. “We’re competitors but everyone has to come together,” he said. “The battle isn’t just about limousines, the battle is not just about taxicabs. It’s a battle that affects everybody in commercial ground transportation.” He emphasized that the fight against TNCs is a fight for increased public safety.

Lefkowitz also addressed the seemingly bottomless pockets that TNCs have on their side, saying that the legally operating companies have something in their favor that money can’t buy. “They have all the money in the world but one thing that they don’t have is the grassroots support that we can create when everybody is working together,” he said. “There are phenomenal resources available to you. You’ve got all the resources that you need to be able to take the TNCs on.”

Lobbyist Barry Lefkowitz, who spoke at the FLA meeting, with Chauffeur Driven Editor Madeleine MaccarFLA President Rick Versace of A1A Airport & Limousine Service reported on how the statewide and regional Florida organizations have been seeking out every possible avenue to slow down the rising tide of illegal operators while the associations combine forces as well as financial resources. One of the fruits of these labors is a public-service commercial that the organizations will be airing on local public access stations to educate the public about the dangers of TNCs, which Versace encouraged other associations to use, too.

SFLA President Neil Goodman of Aventura Worldwide Transportation Service described his organization’s fight against TNCs, and how his association is considering rehiring a lobbyist to assist in its battle at Tallahassee. “What I’ve heard lately, as recently as a week ago, is that they’re thinking about legislating the insurance and the background checks, and leaving everything else to the local counties and the local cities,” Goodman reported.

Cliff Wright of Royal Transportation Group and GOLA president spoke about his association’s recent electronic billboard campaign to inform the public about the dangers of TNCs, as well as GOLA’s unanimous decision to join forces with the FLA and its ongoing fight at the state capital.

WFLA president Dave Shaw of Olympus Limo & Sedan Service discussed how his county of Hillsborough is unique in its operations, as it’s governed by the only Special Act in Florida’s 67 counties. “Every role change in our county has to go through Tallahassee, so if anyone’s going to be attacked first, it’s Hillsborough County, and that’s what they did last year,” Shaw said. He explained how the county’s new director of the Public Transportation Commission (PTC) is a “by-the-book guy” who enforces for-hire transportation rules and regulations to the letter, much to the benefit of legally operating livery companies. He said that the WFLA is continuing to work in tandem with the PTC to keep an eye on TNC activity and establishing requirements for insurance, drivers, and vehicles.

Visit floridalimousine.com for more information. See the FLA public advisory video here.