Despite demands from some local car rental agency owners, the quota limiting the number of rental cars on St. John to 625 will not be raised anytime soon.
While quotas on St. Thomas and St. Croix are not being met, many car rental agencies on St. John operate the full number of cars their quota allows.
Quotas on St. John may be shifted between island rental agencies, explained Bureau of Motor Vehicles Director Jerris Brown.
“What I have to look at is the quotas different businesses have and whether they’re fully using them,” said Brown. “For example, if I gave you a quota of 20 five years ago and you are only using 10, I can take the other 10 and give it to someone else. I need to manage and redistribute them, but we’d have to have a public meeting first with all the parties involved.”
Brown said he recognizes the demand for more rental cars on St. John, however he will not raise the quotas due to congestion and traffic safety concerns, he explained.
Traffic Safety Issue
“I’m not saying there’s not a need,” said Brown. “It’s a traffic safety problem more than anything else for St. John.”
“We have a lot of people requesting an increase in the quotas, and I’m sure there’s a need, because St. John is developing quickly,” Brown continued. “The quotas we have now are the most we can have until they build more roads on St. John. It’s been a while since the quotas were raised, but there’s too much congestion on St. John.”
The congestion is only made worse by allowing cars to come over from rental agencies on St. Thomas, according to St. John Car Rental owner Albert Willis.
“I don’t want any more traffic than anyone else, but they let 60 cars come over on the barge, and the rental companies don’t provide parking here,” said Willis. “A lot of times, I end up fixing their tires. I don’t mind competition, but I would like it to be a little fairer than this.”
“If you can send 60 or 70 cars over here from St. Thomas, technically we have no quota,” Willis added.
Love City car rental agencies can’t accommodate the hundreds of new condos constructed on island with outdated quotas, Willis explained.
St. John on Back Burner
“St. John car rental agencies have not been able to benefit from this boom because we’re stymied by the quota,” he said. “They put us on the back burner in terms of increasing our quota, and they haven’t taken into account that we’ve had an annual growth rate of 20 percent over the last five years.”
Some car rental agency owners are just fine with the quotas. Delrise Varlack of Varlack Auto Rental believes allowing rental cars to travel between St. Thomas and St. John is necessary, she explained.
“It would interfere with commerce if there’s a restriction on cars moving back and forth,” said Varlack. “It’s an alternative for visitors staying on St. Thomas who want to come to St. John for the day to parking in Red Hook, taking the ferry and catching a cab. We have to look at what our visitors really want and what is convenient to them.”
Most visitors bringing rentals cars to St. John from St. Thomas generally head to the beaches, and don’t add to the parking problem in Cruz Bay, Varlack added.
While car rental agencies on St. Thomas and St. Croix will continue to add cars to their fleet without nearing their quotas, the number of cars allowed at St. John rental agencies is likely to remain the same for the foreseeable future.
“People who request more cars on St. Thomas and St. Croix are automatically approved,” said Brown. “On St. John, it’s a problem because so many people are asking.”
Brown hopes to host a hearing with St. John car rental agency owners sometime in the future, he explained.
Rental Car Quotas
As of 2005 according to the
Bureau of Motor Vehicles:
St. John Car Rental – 55
Delbert Hill – 54
Conrad Sutton – 50
Cool Breeze Car Rental – 50
O’Connor Car Rental – 50
James Dalmida – 45
Varlack Auto Rental – 44
Spencer Jeep Rental – 40
Penn’s Car Rental – 31
Denzil Clyne – 30
Courtesy Car Rental – 25
Bouganvillea Leasing – 20
Charles Marsh – 20
Paris Car Rental – 20
Hospitality Rent A Car – 17
Caribbean Villas – 15
Lionel Henley – 15
P&H Automotive – 15
Best Car Rental – 14
Levi Liburd – 10
Halstead Francis – 5