ATLANTA (AP) — Limousine companies are 300 to 400 vehicles short of what’s needed to transport NFL owners, corporate clients and Very Important People this weekend, an executive with Atlanta’s Super Bowl Host committee has been told by transportation firms.
In a letter to Georgia’s public safety commissioner, Amy Patterson said she fears this will become a “viral news story” and “a black eye for the state.” Patterson is the host committee’s vice president of operations and logistics.
At issue is a law barring out-of-state limousines that aren’t insured and registered in Georgia. Limousine firms say they should get an exemption for special events such as the Super Bowl, but that hasn’t been granted.
The concerns were first reported by Atlanta’s Fox affiliate, WAGA-TV.
Representatives of the host committee and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau did not immediately respond Friday to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
“We are begging Gov. Kemp to step in and protect the people of Atlanta, the people of Georgia, the people coming in from out of town to allow us to safely handle their transportation,” said Jeff Greene, president of the Greater Atlanta Limousine Association. Greene calls the situation “extremely, extremely urgent.”
Kemp said he’s leaving it up to his Department of Public Safety chief, Col. Mark McDonough, to handle, and the colonel says he won’t bend.
McDonough said the law is needed for public safety, noting that chauffeured vehicles have been involved in deadly accidents.
“They’re basically asking the colonel of state patrol to set aside state law. That’s kind of brash,” McDonough told WAGA-TV . “That’s not something I’m going to give permission to do.”
Greene said limousine firms were allowed to use out-of-state vehicles to handle the crush of VIPS during the 1996 Olympic Games and the 2000 Super Bowl in Atlanta. But McDonough said he can’t find written proof that was allowed to happen.
“We’re going to have to break major contracts,” limousine company owner Fred Rich told the TV station. “We’re going to have to tell major, major corporate clients we can’t handle their VIP travelers.”
Authorities have been urging everyone else to use public transportation.