A new fleet of sedans with extra leg room and vans with individual seating will be rolled out today as part of a new shuttle service at Norfolk International Airport.
Carey VIP Airport Connection was awarded a contract to shuttle travelers to and from the airport after the airport severed its relationship with another provider that had financial and other business troubles.
Lee Perry Rempas' Airport Express , which has provided ground transportation services at the airport since 2003 , has amassed a debt of about $161,000 to the Norfolk Airport Authority. At one point, auto insurance for Airport Express, also known as LPR , was canceled.
"Carey has the experience that LPR didn't have," said Ken Scott , airport executive director. "I think we will see an improved level of service."
LPR had been in the limousine and taxi business for about a decade before taking on the airport shuttle.
"For us, it wasn't cost effective," Rempas said of the airport shuttle service. "We wish Carey luck, and we'll do our best to make it a smooth transition."
Stephen Story , president of Carey VIP Chauffeured Services, said his company has purchased a fleet of new Crown Victorias and Ford vans for the service. The sedans have an extended wheel base providing more leg room in the rear seat. The vans have individual seating and a center aisle for easier passenger boarding.
The vehicles also have video surveillance and satellite tracking systems for security.
Carey has been a full- service chauffeured transportation provider for 27 years . Locally, it operates the employee shuttle service at the airport and Old Dominion University's student shuttle.
Based in Richmond, Carey is a division of James River Bus Lines. It also has offices in Norfolk and Williamsburg.
LPR stopped serving the airport Tuesday .
After newspaper reports of LPR's financial and insurance troubles last spring, Scott said Rempas came to airport officials and offered to step down.
"He came to us and said this is embarrassing for him and for us," Scott said. "He did volunteer to leave, which was the best thing for him and for us."
Rempas said he agreed to operate the shuttle service for another five months while the airport secured another provider.
Scott and Rempas said they will be meeting in the coming week to work out a payment schedule for the debt.
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