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Mayor Emanuel says 'the party is over' for illegal party buses in Chicago

Written by
Jonathan Samples

From BYOB trolleys to a bus shaped like a barrel of beer, Chicago's party buses are a great way to see the city in style. However, recent incidents involving illegal and unlicensed buses have prompted Mayor Rahm Emanuel to put forth a new ordinance that cracks down on illegal operators and increases safety requirements for licensed party buses.

The mayor announced on Monday that he would introduce an ordinance this week calling for clearly identifiable signage on large charter and sightseeing vehicles, as well as requiring buses visiting multiple locations where alcohol is consumed and carrying 15 or more passengers to install security cameras or travel with security personnel. The ordinance, which would apply to any bus where alcohol is consumed, was designed to help police identify unlicensed buses and increase safety, according to the city.

“The party is over for bus operators who don’t play by the rules in the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said in a statement. “This is a smart approach to hold problem operators accountable and boost safety on the many reputable buses throughout the city." Currently, bus operators can end a problematic trip by returning to it's point of origin. The new law would allow an operator to end the trip at its destination (that means you'd have to take the walk of shame all the way home, if you get too out of control).

Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson added that the ordinance would be an effective tool for the CPD and the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection to reduce violence aboard party buses and hold operators that put people at risk accountable.

Under the new ordinance, licensees would have to provide passengers with a list of actions prohibited on the bus, including possession of controlled substances or firearms. Unlicensed operators would receive a $1,000 fine (up from $100) on the first offense, and a minimum $5,000 fine and a cease and desist order for subsequent offenses. The maximum amount an illegal operator could be fined would increase to $10,000. However, the city added that illegal party buses would be subject to the maximum fines and impoundment. The ordinance would also create a multiagency force to conduct occasional compliance sweeps targeting illegal operators and allow "authorized city personnel to obtain information in the field to affirm compliance."

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