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Chicago Mandates Security Guards, Cameras on Party Buses

Three homicides used to justify host of expensive new regulations.

Tyler Bedgood / FlickrTyler Bedgood / FlickrChicago is cracking down on what one alderman outrageously referred to as "potential rolling cemeteries"—otherwise known as party buses—with a new ordinance requiring expensive security cameras and a licensed guard on trips where alcohol is involved.

Over the past two years 11 shootings connected to party bus passengers resulted in three killings (in a city with 762 homicides in 2016).

The new ordinance kicked in this June and applies to vehicles that can hold 10 or more people and only provide pre-arranged transportation (called charter and sightseeing vehicles). It is city officials' latest attempt to rein in what they claim are dangerous party buses because, as stated by License Committee Chairwoman and Ward 37 Alderman Emma Mitts, "sometimes fatal violence can break out at a moment's notice thanks to the potent mix of guns and alcohol."

Most of the new rules are meant to target the bigger charter and sightseeing vehicles that can carry 15 or more passengers. For bigger buses where alcohol will be consumed on the vehicle or during trip stops, it must be outfitted with a security camera, have a licensed security guard present, all passengers must be informed of the prohibited acts, and the driver must take "affirmative steps" to ensure that no prohibited acts are taking place.

Those prohibited acts include underage drinking, disorderly conduct, possessing drug paraphernalia or drugs, unlawful possession or discharging a firearm, throwing items from the vehicle, indecent exposure, and littering.

Igor Vulicevic, owner of ChiTown LimoBus told Reason that bus shootings are isolated incidents.

"Watch the ten o'clock news. How many were killed on a daily basis in Chicago?" Vulicevic said. "I don't think that the buses are the problem."

According to Vulicevic, the ordinance is "very poorly defined," and bus companies have been fined for not having security guards or cameras on trips with fewer than 15 passengers. A press release from the mayor's office states that that these rules apply to "[b]uses that have 15 or more passengers" which makes it sound like the city is targeting large, rowdy parties. However, the ordinance is actually based on the bus carrying capacity. If there are only five people on the bus, the regulations still apply.

"Things like this are absolutely mindboggling… ," Vulicevic said. "This is just a simple example so you can see how semantics can actually cost somebody a thousand dollars."

Additionally, the city now requires all vehicles that are rated for 15 or more passengers (regardless of alcohol consumption) keep a full itinerary of the trip, and all charter and sightseeing vehicles registered by the city (even those which carry fewer than 15 passengers) must have their city vehicle number printed on the side of the bus.

Vulicevic said that it cost his business $4,000 upfront to get each bus up to code—$16,000 for his four buses. He expressed concern that increasing costs of business could actually make roadways more dangerous for consumers.

"I think it [the ordinance] will put lots of people at risk. … We provide safe and reliable transportation to the citizens and the residents of this city… ," Vulicevic said. "The rates have already gone up. We simply cannot afford paying for all of this. ... So who has to pay? The consumer has to pay. And if the consumer cannot afford it then they will have to drive on their own and it will bring the risk of drinking and driving."

The mayor's office also advertised the ordinance as a way to "help police officers more easily identify unlicensed party buses so they can be stopped." Fines for noncompliance with city regulations can range from $100 to $10,000.

The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and Chicago Police conducted an investigation for illegal vehicles at the end of July and sent cease-and-desist letters to 17 companies who they claim were not following the new rules. But some of those companies say they actually are in compliance with the rules and are threatening to sue the city. Dan Cosma, owner of Cloud 9 Limo told CBS Local Chicago that his company was up to code:

"They really need to do their homework. They are saying for three days they have been investigating all those companies and they wrote I don't know how many citations. We never got a citation. We never got a ticket. We did not get notified about any of this. We know about the ordinance, we are up to date. … This is very damaging and I don't know how it can be fixed now."

Cosma added that he wanted the city to look for companies that "do, in fact, operate illegally." This is a sentiment echoed by Vulicevic, who feels that the city is penalizing legitimate businesses.

Vulicevic and other party bus businesses in Chicago are currently working with a legal team to get the ordinance better defined.

"My last intention is to bash the city and the city officials; we all have to work together," Vulicevic said.

Want to learn more? Check out this informational video from the city:

Photo Credit: Tyler Bedgood / Flickr

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  • Zeb||

    "potential rolling cemeteries"

    So, do they just leave the bodies on the buses when people get shot?

    Seems like potential rolling abattoirs would be a better description.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That's a pretty good band name, honestly.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...sometimes fatal violence can break out at a moment's notice thanks to the potent mix of guns and alcohol.

    They should probably just outlaw guns. And, if that doesn't work, alcohol.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Someone elect this man to office!

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Buses are problematic. VW's are racist Nazi buggies. Parties are inherently violent, especially the Nazi Party, especially when they're in a VW bus, with schnapps, and lugers.

    I say we march.

  • SilentSkies||

    Don't forget the tiki torches!

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Chicago Mandates Security Guards, Cameras on Party Buses
    Three homicides used to justify host of expensive new regulations.

    "Three homicides used to justify host of expensive new regulations."

    What did I tell you about these wild parties?

  • Don't look at me.||

    Because cameras prevent all shootings from happening. It is known.

  • gah87||

    This is a sentiment echoed by Vulicevic, who feels that the city is penalizing shaking down legitimate businesses.
  • Fuck You - Cut Spending||

    security guard = off-duty CPD.

    Just another politician licking the genitals of union membership.

  • Trigger Warning||

    How does Chicago still exists? Who is moving there? Who is starting businesses there? How long until it Detroits?

  • ||

    We have approved the "become Detroit" plan and are implementing it now.

  • Murray Rothtard||

    I love my job and it only exists here. So I can't really justify leaving.

    But goddamn I can feel the walls closing in around me. Staying quite ready to flee.

  • macsnafu||

    Once again, politicians fail to understand the unintended consequences of their actions.

  • jdgalt1||

    * rein in. "reign in" is not a thing.

  • ||

    "reign in" is not a thing.

    How long do we suffer your reign in ignorance of the truth?

  • BambiB||

    Rain in.

    The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane. Or plain.

  • TangoDelta||

    "Over the past two years 11 shootings connected to party bus passengers resulted in three killings"
    You'd think in a city where there are an average of 14 killings each year performed by police that they would require the same for police cruisers.

  • ||

    The city should be required to put a security guard and Camaras on every public street where a homicide has occurred...oh wait

  • BambiB||

    Why don't they have cameras in all the buildings where the majority of crime occurs?

    City Hall.
    Police Union offices.
    Legislative buildings.

  • pxm||

    The city council is largely aware of their voter base, so it's party buses, rather than gangbangers, that are the problem this time around. We all get to pretend that drunk trolleys full of sorority girls are shooting up lincoln park.

  • TJM||

    Chicago council is full of statist. This is yet another senseless attempt at asserting themselves into an industry to address a problem that doesn't exist.

  • DrZ||

    We cannot spend enough money if we are to be 100% safe. Sure it will put a lot of people out of business, but it's worth it if we are to never be injured or killed in our life time.

    Politicians are the best source of information on how to spend money. They will set down laws and regulations to make sure we all pay our fair share in order to live forever - well almost forever.

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