ST. PAUL, Minn. — Spring time brings a variety of events such as proms, graduations, weddings and outdoor sporting events. It’s the time of year when people rent buses, limousines and other passenger vehicles to get to their destinations. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has some tips about renting vehicles so the trip is safe.
“One of the best things to remember is to never book with a company that can’t show you their licensing and insurance credentials,” said Becky Ellinghuysen, Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations, which licenses and regulates more than 400 limousine operators and 350 passenger carriers in the state.
Ellinghuysen said limousine and party bus renters should check with MnDOT to make sure the operator is properly licensed and has the proper levels of insurance. MnDOT can also provide the carrier’s safety rating. All for-hire motor carriers of passengers and limousine service providers are required to carry commercial insurance and be registered with the state. To verify the information, call MnDOT’s Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations at 651-366-6330.
Once a company is chosen, potential renters should ask the company to see copies of the vehicle’s most recent annual vehicle inspection report, limousine or motor carrier of passenger certificate, and the cab card for each vehicle.
In the limousine industry, the quality and price of the services doesn’t always go hand in hand. Cheapest is not always the best option. The limousine or bus may not meet expectations. Persons should always ask to see the vehicle they are renting prior to signing a contract with the operator.
Other tips for choosing a safe and licensed limo/bus operator:
· Shop for the best company. Contact MnDOT to get the company’s safety rating. Book only with companies that have a satisfactory rating. The rating indicates that the vehicles have been inspected and that the operator has safety management practices in place to ensure safe drivers and vehicles are being used.
· Choose your ride. Figure out exactly how many people will be in your group. This will help to determine the type of vehicle you need. Ask the company to show you the specific vehicle you will be renting.
· Get a signed contract. Reliable and professional services will provide a signed service contract.
· Read the contract carefully. The contract should include terms such as cost, deposit required, refund and tip policies, pick-up and drop-off times, arrival and departure locations, specific type of limo requested, and services expected.
Ellinghuysen also reminds renters that alcoholic beverages are not allowed to be consumed by or in the possession of a minor. Drivers typically monitor passengers to make certain that alcohol is not being used by a minor. If alcoholic beverages are found, the driver may choose to return the passengers to their original pick-up location.
MnDOT, along with local law enforcement, routinely conduct inspections of limousines and buses during special events, Ellinghuysen added. For questions, contact MnDOT’s Office of Freight and Commercial Vehicle Operations at 651-215-6330.