Following years of complaints about the 17-year moratorium on the number of rental cars on St. John, agencies were granted an increase in the quota last week.
Last week, Governor John deJongh authorized Bureau of Motor Vehicles Director Jerris Browne to increase the total quota of rental cars on St. John from 625 to 1,250.
The quota has not been increased in 17 years and St. John rental car agencies have been begging for the ability to offer more cars for rent. Last week, those pleas were heard.
“There are 19 car rental agencies on St. John and they have been begging for this for years,” said Browne. “We finally did it, but it doesn’t mean that we are giving out this quota all at once.”
Of the 19 existing car rental agencies on St. John, 16 of those companies have requests pending to increase their quotas, according to Browne.
“There are pending requests and we’ll fill those first,” said the BMV Director. “Those requests are for 270 additional cars and then there are some new businesses who have requested and we’ll also fill their quota requests.”
While Browne has no jurisdiction to rule on the controversial inter-island rental car issue, he hoped this quota increase would help St. John companies compete on a fairer footing with St. Thomas companies.
“I have no jurisdiction about the cars going back and forth,” said Browne. “I know there were some complaints and a number of years ago the Attorney General issued an opinion related to the federal Commerce Clause. There is a new request that the AG is supposed to be looking at to see if there is anything different now.”
“I have no control over that right now,” Browne said. “But they have been complaining for years about the influx of cars coming over from St. Thomas. Hopefully let’s see what happens now that they can meet their demand.”
Whether this car rental quota increase results in fewer people renting cars on St. Thomas and taking them on the barge and instead renting their vehicles on St. John remains to be seen.
“I think St. John companies could get some relief through this,” said Browne. “We have helped with what we could have helped with. Those businesses have been stymied for almost 18 years.”
Browne thanked the St. John car rental companies for their patience.
“It’s been so long that they have been asking for this,” said the BMV Director. “Throughout that time they have continued to do their jobs and continued to be patient. They asked for an opportunity to compete [with St. Thomas car rental companies] and that’s what we’ve given them.”
Browne has already issued letters to each car rental business which had a request pending, he added.
BMV Assistant Director Myrna George was on island last week meeting with business owners to ensure their records and requests were in order, Browne explained.
“We are happy to be able to meet those requests,” said Browne. “With peak season coming up, this will give those businesses that extra asset they might need. I think this is the best thing.”
For more information, contact George at 776-6262 or 643-5110.