Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Chauffeur Driven Editor Madeleine Maccar sat in on Wisconsin Limousine Association’s (WLA) monthly conference call on February 18, where several members discussed DOT activity, TNC updates, and association-specific news.

After everyone in attendance had a chance to chat and catch up, the meeting kicked off with Secretary and Treasurer Karen Lotts of A Knight Rider Limousine presenting the treasurer’s report.

While WLA President Mike Hartmann of Stardust Limousine reported that the association has been discussing TNCs for a while and that they haven’t “really haven’t affected anybody that I know of” from the chauffeured transportation side of regulated livery services, other members said that TNCs are beginning to have an impact on the taxicab industry. They cited a news report the week before, which addressed how taxi operators in the Green Bay area are starting to complain about the slow encroachment of Uber.

“It’s on everybody’s mind,” Hartmann said. “They started out in Milwaukee, and maybe four or five months ago, started up in Green Bay. We just want them all operating with insurance so everyone’s safe.”

Hartmann also said that Wisconsin’s DOT has become more active in the past year or two, having approached WLA members to help identify problems that the state’s operators have been noticing or dealing with.

An ongoing issue is the 5 percent state fee that the operators have to pay on certain trips, which is a fee that the WLA has attempted to get rid of in the past and is thinking about resurrecting that fight again. Hartmann explained that Wisconsin companies will frequently upgrade a client’s requested Town Car if inclement weather necessitates an SUV, which has them “playing in a gray area:” SUVs and vehicles accommodating up to 10 passengers require payment of the state fee while something like a Town Car does not—which are variables that Hartmann calls “kind of a bookworking nightmare.”

“I’d just prefer to see that fee gone because we’re at a disadvantage if taxicab companies don’t have to report that fee but we do—and more than likely, Uber isn’t reporting that 5 percent fee, so, again, we’re at a 5 percent disadvantage,” he said.

The WLA’s next monthly conference call will be March 18.

Visit wisconsinlimo.org for more information.