CHICAGO — City officials announced Monday they had moved to shut down 17 party bus companies, three months after the City Council backed Mayor Rahm Emanuel's effort toughen the rules for the rowdy bashes on wheels after a string of shootings.
The cease-and-desist orders were issued during an investigation that stretched over three days last week designed to test whether the party bus operators were following the law, officials said.
"This isn't just a Downtown problem," said Chicago Police Chief Anthony Riccio, the head of the department's organized crime division. "It adds to the crime on our streets."
Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno said those renting a party bus should be sure the operator is licensed — information that is available online. The shut down orders were sent to companies who were operating without licenses.
Thirty-four citations have been issued in recent weeks to operators for buses who did not have insurance or log where they are going as required, Escareno said.
In April, the City Council moved to require buses that serve booze hire a security guard to accompany parties and install cameras to keep watch on the revelers.
In addition, the owner of the bus or an employee "must take affirmative measures to determine that no passenger is illegally carrying a firearm," according to the law.
The state's concealed-carry law prohibits weapons in bars, but it does not prohibit them on the buses, where alcohol can be served.
Just before the City Council vote, police found three semi-automatic handguns with extended magazines as well as drugs on an overcrowded party bus on Lake Shore Drive near the Museum Campus, according to a statement from police.
The crackdown was initially 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.
About 370 party buses operate in the city, officials said.
The measure is also designed to give officials authority to impound buses operating without a license and increase the fine for that violation to $5,000. The buses also have to clearly display their license information.
Party buses that carry at least 15 people and allow drinking on board — or stop at multiple watering holes — are subject to 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 also stiffen fines significantly, with the punishment for a first offense rising from $100 to $1,000. A maximum fine of $10,000 could be levied for multiple offenses.
City officials said the companies ordered to shut down are:
• AAA Exquisite Limousine, LTD
• Almost Famous
• Chicago Classic Coach
• Chicago Cloud 9 Limo
• Chicago Party Bus 1
• Chicago Party Bus Rent
• Chi Town Limo Bus
• Chi Town Party Bus
• Crystal Limousine
• Elite Chicago Limo
• Exquisite Limo & Party Bus Chicago
• Limos Alive Party Bus Rental
• Manuel D. Tavarez
• Professional Limousine Service, Inc
• The Trolley Car & Bus Company
• Viking Limousine
• VIP Limousine, Inc and Chicago Party Bus Rental.