As you may recall, a few weeks ago I wrote about Las Vegas bureaucrats trying to crash the party bus market and eliminate “nightclub like lighting,” fog machines, strobe lights and even the beloved entertainment pole. Referring to party buses as “rolling ultra lounges” in a recent news article, the Nevada Transportation Authority said it plans to decide what defines a party bus and who should have jurisdiction over them. They now fall under the rules of charter buses and shuttles and don’t have to comply with limousine regulations.
Related LCT article: Smaller Vegas Party Bus Operators Oppose New Rules
Many party bus operators bypass the whole limo licensing thing and just operate as a charter bus service. It’s easier to get a charter bus permit than a limousine service authority. Las Vegas is one of the hardest cities in America to become licensed. These operators are not about to be steam rolled by this proposed change and are banging on the bongos and making noise.
I spent a considerable amount of time talking to Lou Castro, owner of Earth Limos and Buses and vice president of the Nevada Bus and Limousine Association (NBLA) about the effects it would have on the Vegas transportation scene. One major issue is the limitation of company growth by the proposed change. At the present time, limo operators have caps on the number of limos they can operate but no limit on buses. It’s the only way they can grow their business. While technically they can add limos, they must prove to the NTA that any vehicle addition would be to serve new customers and not take customers away from existing limousine services. Yeah, good luck with that argument. By the way, under rules imposed by the NTA in 2005, a limo operator can’t even replace an aging vehicle without approval and that approval takes about two years, according to Castro.
As mentioned, all buses are considered charter or shuttle buses and operate with much less restriction than limousines. Tony Clark, president of the NBLA says, “A bus is a bus. It’s a 26,000-pound coach. Whether my seat goes sideways or long-ways, it’s still the same coach.” But, basically, the NTA is saying, if it has LED lights, strobe lights or a fog machine, now it’s a limousine.
While the NTA is basing its proposal on safety issues, Clark says most companies enforce a no standing rule while the bus is in motion and only allow dancing at stops designated for that purpose. For Castro, with a fleet of all buses, the NTA proposal would spell an automatic closure of his two-year-old company. It would mean the end of a job for 16 people with an effect on each of their families.
The three-member Nevada Transportation Authority is under heavy influence from the Livery Operators Association in their attempt to change Nevada Administrative Code (NAC 702.022 and NAC 706.080) so that party buses will fall under the same restrictive entrance guidelines of a limousine. While they are using the guise of safety concerns in their explanation for the change, the fact is, there have been no fatal accidents or serious injuries attributed to these vehicles in Nevada that anyone can tell me about. So really, why the proposed changes?
The Nevada Bus and Limousine Association (NBLA) believes that there are many other paths that can be taken to fix any safety concerns. Simply put, these regulations harm party bus operators and remove options from tourists that expect to be wowed in Vegas. However, the Livery Operators Association, an organization composed of the city’s six largest limousine, bus and taxi companies and representing about three-quarters of the local for-hire vehicles on the road, see these buses as encroaching on a lucrative market they control.
In other news, New York City based Centerfold Strips has just launched a Mobile Strip Club on Wheels. The strip club limo-bus is kind of a gentlemen’s club on wheels offering all the amenities of a strip club such as plush couches, awesome sound and lighting, a full bar with topless bartenders and servers. Oh, and they have stripper poles with strippers. Not just any strippers. The company boasts midget strippers, overweight strippers, drag queens, male revues and plain ol’ strippers. Whatever might fill your fancy in that department is available. Once again, I am quite sure the world is going to end soon!
— Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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