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Party Buses Will Pay Big For Bad Behavior Under Coming Crackdown

  The City Council's senior alderman is calling for a crackdown on rowdy
The City Council's senior alderman is calling for a crackdown on rowdy "party buses."
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Flickr/Tyler Bedgood

DOWNTOWN — More than a month after a West Ridge man was shot to death after stepping off a party bus in Edgewater, the City Council is poised to crackdown on the rowdy parties on wheels.

The measure, approved unanimously by the City Council's Committee on License and Consumer Protection, would require bus operators to install security cameras, hire more security personnel and eject rowdy passengers.

The full City Council will consider the measure Wednesday.

The latest crackdown was prompted by the shooting death of Quentin Payton, 28, of West Ridge. He died March 12 after a "verbal altercation" led to an exchange of gunfire between a dark-colored SUV and someone on the party bus after it stopped at the Dunkin Donuts at 6332 N. Broadway.

Two others were injured in the altercation.

However, Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) said she was frustrated that the city can not force party bus operations to ban guns on board because of state law.

Approximately, 370 party buses operate in the city, officials said. None of their operators weighed in on the measure Thursday.

The measure is also designed to give officials authority to impound buses operating without a license and increasing the fine for that violation to $5,000. The buses would have to clearly identify their license information.

Party buses that carry at least 15 people and allow drinking on board — or stop at multiple watering holes — would be forced to follow the new rules, which would allow the operators to end a trip immediately if a passenger refuses to obey the rules, according to the measure.

The measure would also stiffen fines significantly, with the punishment for a first offense rising from $100 to $1,000, with maximum fine of $10,000 for multiple offenses.

In September, the City Council passed a law requiring drivers to call police if drunken patrons toss bottles from the vehicle, moon or flash passersby or use illegal drugs after a spate of shootings.

But that did nothing to stop the violence — three people were injured in a December shooting aboard a party bus in Lakeview, the sixth party bus shooting with injuries in 14 months.