Does St. John need more rental cars?

Last week's explosive reaction to a slightly-daft government employee's decision to try to prohibit St. Thomas rental vehicles from coming to St.John shed new light on the island's taxi business.

Such a move – now pushed aside by the Governor – would have a dramatic impact on both islands.  

One St. Thomas car rental operator told the St. John Source (Read the full story.) nearly 75% of his business is in renting cars people are going to take to St. John.  If the Bureau of Motor Vehicles blocked such rentals, "I'd be out of business," he told Lynda Lohr, the reporter.

On St. John, she heard Albert Willis of St. John Car Rental complain that regulations on the taxi business need updating.  He said St. John has a quota of 625 rental cars and the number has not been changed in 20 years.

Another St. John car rental company owner said he thinks visitors bring as many s 800 St. Thomas cars come across the Sound weekly.  "That's terrible for St. John businesses," said Greg Edward.  Because of this, he's unable to rent all his available cars.

19 thoughts on “Does St. John need more rental cars?”

  1. There are far too many cars on St. John. Parking in Cruz Bay is a nightmare. Parking in Coral Bay, especially at Shipwreck Landing can be chancey. What the VI needs is a carefully thought out and implemented system of public transportation, one that is tourist and resident friendly, one that reduces the need and demand for cars, one that provides reasonably priced and pleasant transportation around each island.
    Further, if a car rental agency owner complains that he can’t rent all his cars then he has too many cars.

  2. I totally agree with Wendell, but I’m afraid we are in the minority.
    But Frank, I don’t know where you got the “taxI” question in the headline and Albert’s comments?–the only reference to them was that they were probably the ones behind the attempt at curtailing rental car transfer.

  3. Elliott ..
    My sense of Aaron’s comment is that he thinks the island needs a higher quota for rental cars. My reference to taxi instead of rental car was wrong. Fixing.

  4. Wouldn’t a real, operating Water Taxi be a boon? But that, like this unconstitutional attempt at limiting interisland commerce, is prevented by certain people simply to benefit themselves with cash. The taxi associations, never forced to carry sufficient insurance to cover accidents and injuries to passengers (still, “10-10-10” like passenger cars) are all powerful, cash based lobbying juggernauts. And God forbid you get in an accident that involves a safari or taxi. Guess who invariably wins when the cops show up (formerly Enid Edwards) no matter who is at fault?

  5. Terrible for St. John????????? Are you kidding me each one of those cars bring a suitcase of cash for the Island!!!! Villa Rental, Resorts, Restaurants, bars. Ask the business owners on St. John if they mind if rental cars coming over from St. Thomas. If you own a Car Rental agency on St. John grow with the times or go out of business. Terrible for St. John you gotta be kidding me!

  6. They never seem to have enough rentals cars when I am there, so the complaint about not being able to rent all cars seems suspect. But, I like that they do not have enough cars, lets keep the number of cars down. Would also be nice to keep the size down – bring back the small 2 door jeep, and stop with these larger SUV / very wide 4 door jeeps.

  7. There is a very good reason why I rent my car on St.Thomas, and bring it to St. John. I need to be able to go back and forth to purchase items. Any of the
    St. John car rentals do not allow us to take their rental cars off island. St. Thomas allows us to take the car back and forth. Maybe if St. John car rental Companies would allow this, I would rent my car on St. John. Thanks, Connie

  8. St Thomas rental car companies allow transfer on the car ferry to St John- St John Rental car companies do not- that must mean that St Thomas companies pay higher insurance costs yet can still compete with STJ agencies. So STJ car co’s must make a higher profit and obviously, they do not have a problem with excess cars otherwise they would pay higher insurance costs and allow cars on the car ferry.
    Also, if rental cars are not allowed on the car ferry from St Thomas the stores on St John would make more money and maybe we would have more employment and more shopping choices on St John.
    I also think it’s about time that the regulations for the St John car rental companies be changed to allow for more cars on St John. If 600-800 cars are being transported to STJ and it is still very difficult to find a rental car on STJ during peak times- there is a need for the change.

  9. Several issues here, first it’s a tourist island! Any attempt to stop, impede, or worse fine someone traveling over on a rent a car, will be posted negatively all over the Internet . The islands does not need bad press. The ones pushing for this are the rental car companies on St John, no one else. There badly run at best, and need to get there act together, and passing a law to help them is ridicules. I applaud the governor for having the sense to shoot this down.
    Second if you live part time on the island, or thinking of buying on the island. Which the real estate market is struggling. The comment above is true! No one wants to go all the way to St John to rent and go back to St Thomas to pick up your things. That’s crazy it will kill and potential buyers. With 300 homes for sale that’s the last thing the island needs

  10. I agree with Connie. We come for 2-3 months in the winter and choose not to own a car. Our budget is set up for X dollars in car rental. We go to STT to buy stuff. I dont WANT to rent on STT, but I want that flexibility. If the STJ car companies allowed their cars to go to STT I would always use them, I bet they’d like our 3 month rental contract instead of Avis!

  11. First the tourists needs should come first. The island depends on tourism, and the first time you make it so inconvenient and worse fine someone the web will be a buzz of negative comments. Second if you live there or are thinking of buying in st John then it’s ridicules to think you have to go to st John, rent a car and then go back to st Thomas to get your stuff. I applaud the governor for shooting this down. The real estate industry, and the islands tourism will suffer if they do anything to change things. Last, I’ve tried renting from st John car rental companies, there badly run, no return calls, bad or no web sites, bad service etc. if they lower cost and out service the big guys they will win the business

  12. We are so sorry to hear about this change. First of all, we will miss the convenience of renting a car on St. Thomas. It is hard enough to get to St. John. It is a long and complicated trip with at least 3 legs. Being able to get in our rental car at the St. Thomas airport was a great help. We could, then pick up provisions and be almost a day ahead in getting on with our vacation.
    This move makes it less attractive to visit St. John

  13. We, the tourists, bring the $$$$ to St. John. You depend on us for your livlihood. If you want us to return each year, lower your car rental fees. Food markets… give the tourists and your locals a break… lower your prices. Then, we would not have to rent a car in St. Thomas, etc.
    And, in the past, I had a bad experience with a rental car… was in an accident that was not my fault (people who saw the accident agreed with me) but, the police sided with the local who was totally at fault and threatened/forced me to sign a paper that it was my fault OR, come back in a month or so and fight it in Court. And, who do you think would have won in Court… you got that right… the local.

  14. I received an e-mail from a non-chain car rental agency we use on St. Thomas who said that it was a misunderstanding of the law. Basically, rent from them again this summer as planned and don’t worry about it!

  15. There are two sets of laws in St. John. Those that apply to locals and those that apply to all others. Last week, when visiting the island, I was amazed at how many locals speed through all sections of the island while visitors – including regulars, get pulled over and receive citations. The preferential treatment and bending laws is outrageous.

  16. Welcome to the people republics of the VI where every fiefdom is protected. How protected? Food prices go up 50-100% simply by crossing from St Thomas to St John. The excuses given are most entertaining. There should be no restraint on trade. St John rental/taxis companies should not have a protected market. Competition and the free market will establish fair pricing. First time visitors usually rent on St John. Second timers learn the ropes and rent on St Thomas, which makes the most sense–economically and especially for convenience sake.
    As a resident of St John I disagree with the notion that there are too many cars on the island. So what if there is limited parking in Cruz Bay. Duh. There is always limited parking in any tourist town in season. Now with the parking near the barge there is more than ample parking. Sorry, you have to walk in paradise for five minutes to get there.
    Offer people more choices, not less, and the marketplace will sort out the best solutions. Ten people sitting around a table practicing their crony capitalism always makes things worse.

  17. Just finishing a 10 day stay on STJ. St. John does NOT need more cars from ANY source. Face the fact that this island is a microcosm of the planet – more people, more cars, more everything just leads to destroying why we come here in the first place and not stay on St. Thomas.
    In the words of Joni Mitchell – “Take paradise – put up a parking lot”.
    If you want to drive your SUV or 4 door Jeep, go to Miami Beach.

  18. Car leasing can offer advantages and be an attractive alternative to buying, although it’s not for everyone. Although leasing offers attractive benefits to automotive consumers, those benefits should be weighed against any potential disadvantages. Online car rental is the best way to assure the car you want to drive on your next magnificent vacation.

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