Say No To Extreme Actions

Posted on January 21, 2016 by - Also by this author

A well-behaved party bus crowd. They're not driving.
A well-behaved party bus crowd. They're not driving.
In my upcoming February Editor’s Edge column, I highlight a sentence that I believe speaks to our times: “Let’s ditch the radicalism.”

The piece addresses some of the doomsday predictions and gloomy outlooks we’ve heard throughout the industry, especially as related to all-things Uber and apps. I wrote the column before reading this editorial in a Vancouver, B.C.-area local newspaper that calls for banning all party buses. The editorial over-reacts to a tragic party bus death in downtown Vancouver, widely reported in the media.

While not related to Uber or TNCs, the editorial is the first I’ve read advocating an outright ban on party buses as opposed to promoting more safety. Needless to say, a ban would not go over well in the chauffeured transportation industry, either in Canada or the U.S.

The radical, Prohibition-esque idea of banning all party buses would decimate a major revenue stream for operators and coachbuilders, and deprive the traveling public of a popular, fun, and desired service. Ban supporters are reacting to (not thinking through) the handful of alcohol-related and/or accidental deaths resulting from passengers falling out of the buses.

For starters, the core appeal and purpose of party buses in the first place is to avoid drunken driving while saving money and having a good time. Why risk a group of partygoers all driving themselves or taking more expensive cabs to common destinations, when an overall safe ride on a bus gets them there?

With a little more research, and a little less emotion, advocates of party bus safety could put forward some common sense rules or policies to deter the highly publicized party bus accidents. These should be addressed by individual states, cities and localities, which can find solutions tailored to their markets based on public sentiment.

I present these ideas as alternatives to the heavy hammer of party bus bans. I don’t necessarily support or oppose one versus the other:

• As with bars and alcohol, adopt/require and verify that all party bus participants are age 21 or older. Check I.D.s at the party bus door.

• Adopt/require party bus doors to meet agreed upon state or federal safety standards, and then support those through periodic inspections, as with elevators, gasoline pumps, restaurant food safety, etc.

• Adopt/require use of a designated chaperone aboard a party bus with a passenger load beyond a certain minimum, say 10 or more.

• Adopt/require use of seat belts while the party bus is in motion. Partying and dancing are allowed only when the bus is safely parked.

• Adopt/require a practice of “cutting the ride” if any violence, vomiting, boisterous activity, or repeated refusals of chauffeur/driver warnings occur. It’s the same principle as ending a stretch limousine ride for prom-goers if a teen is caught sneaking alcohol aboard.

Same party bus crowd. They're still not driving!
Same party bus crowd. They're still not driving!
I say “adopt/require” because these ideas could be voluntarily followed, or required by the law. Self-policing is always preferable to the other kind. Some operators likely could think of other ideas or solutions based on years of fleet experience.

The shrill call to a party bus ban reflects the hyper-controlling and regulatory mindset that flourishes under the political banner of puritanical Progressivism. That approach seeks to over-regulate businesses, services and public activity, instead of solving core problems. You can thank Progressivism for low-flush toilets, low-wattage light bulbs, maximum spa-tub temperatures, sugar policing, ethanol blends, and the 21-drinking age, to name a few. Those rules come from a patronizing, we-know-what’s-better-for-you attitude among elitists exaggerating the problems they claim to address. Let’s not add party buses to the growing list.

While operators need to fight and snuff out any hints of party bus bans, the more vital, long-term effort is to propose workable solutions that help the industry get control of the situation and protect customers.

And don’t ever think a pipsqueak editorial can’t spark a regulatory roar.

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