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As Chicago prepares to celebrate the New Year, a new City ordinance allowing regulators and Chicago police to crack down on illegal party buses while increasing safety requirements for licensed operators is showing promising results – and helping reduce crime.
Since June 1, when the city implemented the new rules under an ordinance championed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, regulators have issued 125 tickets and 28 cease and desist orders to noncompliant operators. Police have also made 11 illegal weapons and narcotics arrests under the new rules. At the same time, gun violence and drug crimes related to party buses have dropped throughout the city – making for a safer city and an improved consumer experience.
“The ordinance we passed this summer is showing progress,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The party is over for illegal party bus operators, and the parties are safer for people using licensed operators. I'm proud of the progress we have made to protect residents and visitors, and looking forward to building on our efforts in 2018."
The strengthened rules, passed by the City Council this spring, helps improve safety by requiring party bus licensees to provide each passenger with a summary of acts prohibited on buses, which include unlawful possession of a firearm or controlled substance, security guard if alcohol is present or if the vehicle makes multiple stops. Additionally, the new ordinance requires clearly identifiable signage on licensed large charter/sightseeing vehicles to ensure any buses operating without a license are easy to identify and shut down. The City has imposed nearly $80,000 in penalties to operators found in violation of the party bus ordinance.
“As we head to the New Year’s Eve holiday, we want to remind consumers that this tool is there to help ensure their safety as they are celebrating,” said Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “If a party bus is part of your plan for this weekend, make sure you are dealing with a licensed operator before you book a charter bus or limo.”
While Chicago’s new rules have set clear standards for party bus operators in Chicago, a gap still remains for those operating outside the city. In fact, of the 28 cease and desist orders issued to noncompliant vehicles, 18 have yet to comply and are located in the suburbs. To build on the progress made under Chicago’s stricter rules, in 2018 the city will seek new state licensing legislation to better address illegal party bus operators traveling into the City from the suburbs.
“Our city ordinance has been a net win for public safety in Chicago,” said BACP commissioner Rosa Escareno. “We are going to take the next step through state legislation to ensure no matter where a party bus company locates their fleet, if they do business in Chicago they had better be serious about ensuring the safety of our communities and the safety of their patrons.”
The City will seek several regulatory improvements through state legislation including requiring a state online-registration that helps identify which buses have been properly licensed by the State and passed the required safety inspection, and requiring better State vehicle identification that can be used by City officials.
Consumers that want to verify if a party bus is lawful can visit the “Public Passenger Vehicle License” database on the City of Chicago data portal at https://data.cityofchicago.org. If the vehicle is not listed on the City’s portal you should request verification from the charter bus company. For more information about public vehicle licensing, contact BACPPV@cityofchicago.org.