Ald. Reilly proposes crackdown on party buses

- Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) has had his fill of rowdy, raucous and lewd behavior on party buses and trolleys roaming the streets of Chicago, the Sun-Times is reporting.

So much so that he’s proposing a crackdown that would literally require those vehicles to take “corrective action” that ranges from evicting the inebriated offender to terminating the trip and returning all passengers to the “point of origin.”

“The charter bus industry has built a lucrative business model that involves packing buses and trolleys to participate in lengthy pub crawls in hospitality corridors,” Reilly told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Commanders from the Police Department and a large contingent of bar and restaurant owners met with me to voice their serious concerns regarding the safety of these Party Buses. The hospitality industry is concerned about these buses dropping off 40-50 over-served passengers at their front doors – forcing the bar’s security staff to deal with large groups of heavily intoxicated individuals at once. This often leads to confrontations and calls for 911 service.”

Reilly called party buses a “major drain” on police resources at a time when Chicago Police officers are working in pairs in the wake of the ambush of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

“Not only are they responding to calls for service from bars, they are responding to fights on the right of way, public urination and other code violations,” he wrote, noting that Aldermen Brian Hopkins (2nd); Pat Dowell (3rd); Michele Smith (43rd) and Tom Tunney (44th) are “struggling” with the same problem.

Last year, Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th) and Public Safety Committee Chairman Ariel Reboyras (30th) joined forces on an ordinance that would require party buses to be licensed to sell alcohol and designate an individual who is at least 25 years old to check the identification of all passengers on the bus.

Their ordinance was a response to a wave of fights and shootings aboard party buses and the death of a woman who fell from a bridge railing shortly after leaving a party bus.

That ordinance went nowhere, prompting Reilly to lower the boom on party buses and trolleys at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

His ordinance would prohibit charter/sightseeing passengers under the age of 21 from consuming or possessing alcohol. Passengers would also be prohibited from: engaging in disorderly conduct; possessing drug paraphernalia; discharging a weapon; hurling projectiles from the vehicle; committing indecent exposure; littering and unlawfully possessing or using marijuana.

If passengers commit any of those acts, the driver would be required to take “corrective action.”

That is defined as demanding that the passenger refrain from that behavior or leave the vehicle.

“If the recipient … does not comply with the demand, ‘corrective action’ means to promptly terminate the charter/sightseeing service and return any passengers to the point of origin or make a prompt report of the unlawful act(s) to the Chicago Police Department,” the ordinance states.

“No owner or driver of a charter/sightseeing vehicle shall allow any person who is visibly inebriated onto that vehicle unless the next stop is the point of origin. The driver … shall keep an itinerary identifying the point of origin and each stop for the current trip and shall present that itinerary to a police officer upon request.”

The ordinance would hold the owner of the sightseeing company responsible for driver violations, with notices arriving by mail.

Violators would face fines ranging from $250-to-$500 for the first offense to $500-to-$1,000 for the second offense and up to $1,500 for three or more offenses within “the same calendar year.”

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