Limousines are no longer only for the wealthy. There are literally hundreds of limousine services in Orange County, catering to proms, weddings, special nights on the town and rides to the airport. Some are illegal--limousine services are required by law to be licensed with the state Public Utilities Commission, but many smaller operations bypass the regulations. While they sometimes offer lower prices, there is no guarantee that they have liability insurance. A representative of the Southern California Limousine Owners Assn. warned also that unlicensed companies are not accountable for the quality of their service. Limousine services are required to display their PUC license number (beginning with the letters "TAP") in their advertising and on the bumpers of their cars.
Among the amenities offered in most standard "stretch" limousines are cellular phones, color televisions and VCRs, stereos, sun roofs, tinted windows, privacy dividers and stocked bars. Most services operate on an hourly rate basis, although flat rates are often offered for airport service and entertainment, sports or dinner packages. The chart below shows the hourly rates for a standard stretch limousine charged by several licensed services in Orange County. Prices often rise during prom season, New Year's Eve and other high-demand periods. The selections are random and are intended to show typical rates; they do not constitute any endorsement by The Times.