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Editorial: Party bus business better sober up

An incident at the Rock 'n' Roll McDonalds that involved passengers of two party buses was the last straw for Ald. Brendan Reilly, who has drafted an ordinance cracking down on such behavior. | Associated Press file photo

Follow @csteditorialsThe party bus business had better police itself better, or the party’s over.

As reported Friday, party buses are causing problems for Chicago. Boorish drunks are tumbling on and off the buses, sometimes getting into fights, as they move from bar to bar.

EDITORIAL

Follow @csteditorialsThis is not a huge problem, we suppose, unless you live in a corner of the city, such as Rush and Division streets, where the buses love to go the rounds. But this is also not just a lot of whining from Streeterville condo owners. The problem of party buses can’t be dismissed as easily as, say, a former alderman’s call for carriage horses to wear diapers.

During a committee hearing last week, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) described a Labor Day weekend shooting involving two party buses at the Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s on North Clark Street. And that shooting wasn’t isolated. Five people were shot while exiting a party bus in South Shore in April; a driver was charged after shots were fired from his party bus last December in the Gold Coast neighborhood, and there have been other shootings on or near party buses.

The problem, usually, is too many people on the buses who have had too much to drink.

The proposed ordinance would require party bus drivers to take corrective action if overserved passengers start to get out of hand or face fines of up to $1,500. Which sounds low to us. The fines have to hurt.

The ordinance also would prohibit charter/sightseeing passengers under the age of 21 from possessing or consuming alcohol. We’d say fines for those kinds of violations should be even higher. Any party bus operator who can’t properly check an ID is in the wrong business.

Chicago’s a big city, and party buses have that big-city vibe. They have their place. But if the business can’t police itself, Chicago should take away the keys. Our cops are plenty busy enough.

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