Albany limo company welcomes reforms, taking own steps to improve safety

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York Senate and Assembly have agreed on a limo reform package. The ten bills are supposed to change the way the limo industry is regulated and make sure passenger safety is a top priority.

One local limousine company welcomes these reforms, saying they won’t affect operators who are already doing what they’re supposed to.

It’s not putting pressure on the legitimate operators like Premiere,” David Brown, owner of Premiere Transportation told News10.

Exterior of a Ford van that will become part of Premiere’s fleet.
Credit: Premiere Transportation

The reforms the Senate and Assembly submitted include requiring stretch limos to be retrofitted with seatbelts, mandating commercial driver’s licenses for people behind the wheel of a vehicle with nine or more passengers, and increasing criminal penalties for drivers who break the law while on the road.

Brown has been getting ahead of the legislation, taking steps of his own to only put vehicles on the road that have not been altered in a way that compromises the integrity.

Previously, Premiere would buy a Lincoln and have it altered by a secondary manufacturer. That would involve cutting the car in half and making it a stretch limousine.

Interior of a Ford van that will become part of Premiere’s fleet.
Credit: Premiere Transportation

Brown says Premiere’s limousines were always altered by a mechanic approved by Lincoln, but to make passenger safety even more of a guarantee, he’s moving away from the classic stretch and opting for something more sturdy and comfortable.

“We’re buying, for example, a Ford van, and that van is not being cut up. What’s happening is they’re taking the inside of the van out, they’re customizing it with seats, seatbelts, [and] a limo-type interior that is just as nice as the [Lincoln] limousine,” Brown said.

An employee of Premiere monitors a live feed of the garage and lot.

Part of the limo reform package includes a hotline, app, and website where customers of a limo company can easily report a concern with a vehicle or driver. Brown says that won’t be a problem for his operation or others like it.

“Here at Premiere, we have three full-time mechanics. [If] something goes wrong with a car, it’s written up. Its addressed,” Brown said.

That part of the bill, and others, were authored by Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who said in a statement, “The need for updated laws governing stretch limousines is apparent and simply cannot wait. On behalf of the families affected by the tragic events in Schoharie and Long Island, I urge the Assembly, Senate and the Governor to work together to get these bills signed into law—they are all essential to prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”

Santabarbara gives a lot of credit to the families of the Schoharie crash victims for pushing for safety legislation that will help the whole state.

Kevin Cushing, who lost his son in the Schoharie limo crash, said on behalf of the victims families, “we appreciate that our voices were both heard and heeded. The result is well crafted, enforceable safety legislation that will go a very long way in preventing another limousine tragedy of this nature and magnitude.”

Senator Tim Kennedy told News10 in a statement that he expects the bills to move forward for a vote in both houses swiftly, and is confident that Governor Cuomo will sign them into law.

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