What’s next for Nashville’s party bus industry after Council votes for regulation

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Loud party buses, wagons, peddle taverns, tractors and even the hot tub bus will soon have to adhere to new regulations in Music City.

The Metro Nashville Council voted Tuesday night to approve a bill that will limit who can and cannot operate transportainment vehicles in Davidson County.

The question now becomes what’s next for business owners who currently operate these vehicles? Despite the bill’s passing, the debates are far from over.

Councilmember Freddie O’Connell said there will have to be a compromise for the industry, which is estimated to bring in $60 million with 1.5 million riders annually. Removing alcohol from the experience would likely drive the transportainment industry out of business and the new regulations could possibly ban passengers from bringing their own alcohol onto the vehicles.

It would also punish the operators if three noise complaints are filed, ending in a fine and a year suspension for owners.

The Council discussed specifics on routes tranportainment vehicles are allowed to take.

“I know in my district, they’ve been up 12th Avenue and on the side streets off 12th Avenue, they’ve been deep off Fairfax Avenue, which has no commercial interest in whatsoever, on Belmont Boulevard, I got a call Saturday night at 11 about one loudly going down Belmont Boulevard,” said District 18 Councilmember Tom Cash.

Councilmember Zach Young, who represents District 10, voted against the regulations, saying it was a rash move.

“I’m very disgusted by the CVC’s attempt at ram-rodding through legislation to essentially kill an industry, that thought might not be the most popular one, plays an important role I think by providing a safe way for some folks to enjoy our city and there are a lot of good actors that are ultimately going to get punished because of a few that are equally as despicable,” explained Young.

The bill, which passed 33-3, allows the Metro Transportation and Licensing Commission to decide who can and cannot operate and maintain a permit process for these party buses and wagons. The new regulations take effect Dec. 1, 2021.

Mayor John Cooper’s office released a statement on the bill:

“Everyone Mayor Cooper talks to downtown – residents, property owners, and tenants alike – tell him: something must be done to restore the live-work-play balance in downtown Nashville. The mayor appreciates Metro Council’s collaboration with the administration to craft the legislation that passed today. He looks forward to signing it. Now, Mayor John Cooper is focused on the work ahead to engage with good-faith operators from the industry and design a regulatory framework that allows entertainment vehicles to operate responsibly”

Andrea Fanta, Spokesperson For Mayor John Cooper

President and CEO of the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. released a statement to News 2, which reads:

“Thank you to Councilmember O’Connell, his fellow Council members, the Mayor’s Office and the community for approving legislation to help make entertainment vehicles safer. We are invested in a long-term strategy that does not kill that part of our industry but keeps party buses on the streets while allowing for a clear regulatory path. Tonight’s successful vote is just a first step. Enforcement is critical, and we will work with Metro on that piece.”

Butch Spyridon, President and CEO, Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp

The president of Nashville Transportainment Association Michael Winters has promised to continue fighting to find middle ground and is also considering legal action.

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