Corporate bigwigs, celebrities and other VIPs may have to take MARTA with the rest of us, amid what Atlanta’s Super Bowl Host Committee calls a limousine shortage so dire it could leave Georgia with “a black eye.”
It would take about 800 limos to accommodate clients for the hoopla surrounding the game, said Jeff Greene, president of the Greater Atlanta Limousine Association. Trouble is, the major companies in the metro area only have about 400 limos. They were hoping to get approval from officials to bring in more from out of state, seeing as it’s the most special of occasions.
But the Georgia Department of Public Safety won’t budge.
“We’re not going to allow them to violate state law — that’s it,” Col. Mark McDonough, head of the department of public safety, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Saturday afternoon. “They were looking for a pass at the 11th hour.”
State law requires limos for hire to be registered in Georgia and driven by registered Georgia limo drivers -- a law public safety officials reminded the limousine association of back in August.
Greene said he knew about the rules but thought the state would allow an exception, as he says it did during the 1996 Olympics and the 2000 Super Bowl. McDonough said he has no knowledge any such exceptions were granted in those events.
Amy Patterson, vice president of operations and logistics for the host committee, said in a letter to McDonough that she fears the limo shortage will become a “viral news story” and “a black eye for the state.”
McDonough said at last count there were 498 limo companies registered in Georgia, with a total of 706 vehicles. That “absolutely” ought to be enough, he said.
Greene disagrees, because some of the companies are small operations that are scattered across the state. He doubts drivers from Valdosta will make the trek to Atlanta.
Greene said he learned about two weeks ago of the impending trouble and had hoped to find a fix by now. Now that he hasn’t, he said he’s hoping companies don’t have to break contracts they have made to drive around the rich and famous during the Super Bowl.
Either way, he’s hoping to talk with officials after the game about how to avoid such a situation for future special occasions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.