CHICAGO (CBS) — Seventeen party bus companies in Chicago are looking at a red light from city officials.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection and the Chicago Police Department announced Monday that 17 party bus companies are in violation of the city’s new ordinance cracking down on illegal party buses.
Following a three-day field investigation, the city sent out cease and desist letters to bus owners. Under the ordinance, to ensure the safety of party bus riders and residents of the communities in which party buses travel passed in April, party buses operating illegally will be subject to minimum fines of $1,000 for a first time violation, which increases to $5,000 for subsequent violations.
Commissioner Rosa Escareno said the increased pressure is meant to protect both passengers and those around them.
“When you have inebriated individuals and you have a busload and now you’re unloading onto an area that’s already congested, it has a recipe for problems,” Escareno said. “Our goal is public safety.”
Police said numerous shootings connected to party buses are just one reason for increased pressure. It targets owners violating the rules meant to keep passengers safe while drinking.
Chief of Organized Crime Anthony Riccio said CPD is determined to hold companies accountable.
“We can point to a number of incidents where the lack of proper measures on party buses lead to violent crimes,” Riccio said. “Sometimes on the bus, sometimes off the bus.”
Rules for party bus operators include keeping an itinerary for each trip and having a security guard on board buses with alcohol. Rules that city officials say many party bus operators are not following.
In late March, the Mayor’s office said there has been increased violence in unlicensed buses, which led to the Mayor’s ordinance.
The office said at least six shootings have happened on party buses in Chicago in the last year and a half. The most part bus-involved shooting occurred earlier this month in Edgewater.
Qeuntin Payton, 28, and Chaz Johnson, 22, died March 12 after an exchange of gunfire between a dark-colored SUV and someone on a party bus; after the bus stopped at the Dunkin Donuts in the 6300 block of North Broadway in Edgewater. Three people were shot, according to police.