Luxury Coach & Transportation

December 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION DECEMBER 2018 39 ordinance may chase away business. ere already are signs operators and tour groups are choosing to pass on Chicago as a destination because of the ordinance. Law Hurts Bookings To Chicago A recent online survey by the United Motorcoach Associa- tion found about 80% of respondents agreed the ordinance would dissuade them from considering Chicago either as a destination or an interim stop on a tour. One survey respondent reported his company had "stopped booking trips to Chicago." Another called the ordinance "ludicrous," saying it treats "all good and upstanding coach companies who do not partake in party bus rentals as automatically guilty parties. Just because we may bring groups to plays, ballgames, and stay overnight in hotels that serve liquor, we are treated as complicit in undesirable behavior." While 20% of responding companies said they would not travel to Chicago because of the ordinance, 70% said they would leave it up to the customers after informing them of the extra costs involved. "So far," one respondent said, "most have decided to go somewhere else." Selective Enforcement Motorcoach operators also complain the ordinance isn't uniformly enforced and some police o‡cers interpret the law diˆerently than others. Chicago Classic Coach has been cited ‰ve times, but not because it lacked a security guard, Ekberg said. Instead, the tickets were for not having a proper permit, although one was not required, and for not having a sign on the bus indicating it was operating legally, although its USDOT number was prominently displayed. Ekberg successfully challenged all ‰ve tickets in court. Torlo, who also received a bogus ticket that was overturned, said police selectively enforce the ordinance. If there is a major sporting event, such as a baseball playoˆ game, the ordinance is likely to be strictly enforced, he said, while other times police will not bother charter buses. "You don't know when, so you just have to comply all the time," Torlo said. "Because of the bad apples, the good guys are getting hurt." motorcoach operators said police have confronted them for not having guards onboard during student trips. "One of our buses took a group of high school students to Navy Pier (a popular tourist attraction), and after they got oˆ the bus a police o‡cer asked the driver why he didn't have a security guard," Torlo said. "ey don't know party buses from motorcoaches." e BACP statement said the department was "working with the charter industry to further clarify school-age kid trips and include this in our FAQs so the industry has a consistent understanding of the requirements." Reforming The Rules Chicago-area motorcoach operators have formed a coalition of more than 40 industry executives to coordinate their challenge to the ordinance and raised funds to hire an attorney to lobby on their behalf. e Midwest Bus & Motor- coach Association, the United Motorcoach Association, and the American Bus Association are backing the coalition. "We are making some progress," said coalition member Carl Ekberg, vice president and chief operating o‡cer at Chicago Classic Coach in Mount Prospect, Ill. "We have been meeting with city o‡cials, aldermen, and police commanders." Ekberg said some aldermen appear to agree with the coalition's concerns, but are reluctant to change the ordinance until after the next city election, when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel leaves o‡ce. Emanuel, who is not seeking re-election, introduced the party bus ordinance and is its chief supporter. Hime said the coalition plans to contact mayoral and alderman candidates to make them aware of the industry's concerns. Industry o‡cials also are worried the ordinance could encourage other cities to implement similar regulations. Hime said she doesn't know of any other city or state with such an aggressive law, although some have regulations requiring tour and charter groups to have chaperones on buses when passengers are drinking onboard. Hime said restaurants, hotels, museums, and other charter bus destinations in Chicago are concerned the PHOTO: © ISTOCK.COM/ JOEL CARILLET HAL MATTERN is the former editor of Bus & Motorcoach News published by the United Motorcoach Association. Chicago law enforcement appears to have trouble understanding that while a motorcoach and retail minibus may feature the same exterior characteristics, a motorcoach carries all types of forward-facing groups to different events, while a minibus can be congured to run as an actual party bus. In most cities, party buses are small limo-style buses that transport revelers on club crawls, or are used as rolling night clubs, allowing them to drink alcohol along the way. LCT le shot

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