NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Tuesday, Metro Council members voted to put more regulations on transportainment vehicles.
The bill passed 33-3, allowing the Metro Transportation and Licensing Commission to decide who can and cannot operate and maintain a permit process for these party buses and wagons.
“Safety, safety has always been our number one concern,” said Tee Jordan, co-organizer of Safe Fun Nashville.
Growing up in the Music City, Jordan says she has become accustomed to the growing and entertainment-driven area of the downtown area, however, she says transportainment vehicles have become a rolling headache recently.
Just last month, students and teachers from Hume Fogg High School held a press conference, expressing their concerns about the constant noise during school hours. Some students even claim to have had things thrown at them while the party busses drive by.
“As a Nashville resident, I want to be able to come downtown enjoy myself and be safe, and I would like everybody who even visits Nashville to have that same pleasure,” explained Jordan.
The new regulations could possibly ban passengers from bringing their own alcohol onto the moving vehicles. The new legislation would also punish operators if three noise complaints are filed, causing owners to pay a hefty fine and a year suspension.
However, Michael Winters, President of the Nashville Transportainment Association believes the rule is unfair. He points to other businesses that operate with loud music facing out to the public and believes the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.
“The bars, the hockey arena, everybody else can have speakers pointed to the street and that’s fine because nobody is enforcing it, but I’m going to get a $4- to $5-million fine if my speakers are too loud three times in the course of a year,” explained Winters.
Leading up to Tuesday’s meeting, Winters told News 2 he believed the council would pass the bill, despite having several conversations in hopes of finding a middle ground on the issue.
“They are using the facade that we are working together in building regulations when the reality is, they are just trying to annihilate something they chose to all of a sudden don’t like,” said Winters.
The bill will go into effect on December 1. Organizers with Safe Fun Nashville say the idea behind the winter date is to allow transportainment operators to have plenty of time to register with the city and comes during the off-season for most business.
Still, Winters says he plans on working with Metro officials to find some common ground on what has become a heated issue, comparing complaints to other Downtown businesses.
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“We’re talking about 1.5 million riders, you can’t take four snippets and deem an industry awful. If that were the case, I could stand outside of any bar at any given night in downtown Nashville with a camera taking photos of what I see on the balconies and inside bars, and if that were the case we should close all bars,” explained Winters.
In a statement from Jim Schmitz of Safe Fun Nashville, the organization’s co-organizer said:
“Thanks to the unwavering support of Nashville residents, students, business owners, and the overwhelming support of Metro Council, we have passed a bill that brings us one step closer to making sure downtown is safer for everyone. Enforcement is the key. It’s time for Metro Nashville and the Transportation Licensing Commission to use every tool in the toolbox to enforce these common-sense guidelines. Nashville has built a reputation as a great place to live, work, and play, and making sure party vehicles prioritize safety will ensure our tourism industry continues to thrive.”
Winters says he has spoken to lawyers about taking legal action against the council’s decision.