Boston Chauffeur Driven Show
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Richmond, Va. — The Virginia Limousine Association (VLA) is urging its state Senate and House of Delegates to make substantial changes to legislation that establishes rules for TNCs to operate in Virginia. The Senate Transportation Committee approved a measure January 21 that will advance to Senate; a similar bill currently awaits consideration in the House of Delegates.

“Senate Bill 1025, as currently written, creates a terribly unfair playing field,” VLA President Paul Walsh of Superior Executive Transportation said in a press release. “It dramatically increases the costs for traditional limousine companies by requiring as much as a $100,000 license fee for any company wanting to operate as a TNC in Virginia. This is fine for Uber and Lyft that have billions of dollars in Silicon Valley backing, but not for mom-and-pop firms here in Virginia that have much higher insurance and taxes, which they must pay.”

According to Walsh, the alleged purpose of the license fee is to fund DMV’s regulatory and enforcement costs of TNC legislation. “But a one-size-fits-all fee of $100,000 precludes almost, if not all, but a handful of the existing 700-plus licensed passenger carrier companies in the state of Virginia from any chance to compete,” he said.

Licensing fees of $50 per vehicle would fairly fund the legislation just as well without favoring the large TNC companies, according to VLA Secretary Randy Allen of James Limousine Service. But Allen adds that the committee removed that option at the request of Uber and Lyft because it would harm their business models by imposing costs on drivers who may not be able to pay it. TNC drivers use their own personal vehicles, so they do not pay the full car tax under Virginia law; because limousine companies operate commercial vehicles, however, they receive no such break.

VLA also contends that long-operating TNCs elsewhere in the country are luring drivers from legally operating companies by promising higher pay but not necessarily standing by their word or disclosing the full cost of being a “partner company.”

“The TNC business model and actual practice in community after community forces drivers to work longer and longer hours, as rates paid by the passengers go down and commissions charged by the TNC companies to the drivers go up,” said Glenn Stafford of Love Limousine, the legislative liaison for VLA. “Virginia is not aware of the damage being done across America and why states like California and New York are taking second looks at the laws they passed regulating TNCs.”

Walsh says the limousine companies are dispirited and angry about the rush to action and lack of consideration to the impact SB 1025 and companion bill HB 1662 could have. “It is hard to fight the big California money and the politics,” he said. “We are counting on the good people in the House and Senate to stop this steamroller before it’s too late for our members.”

[CD0115]