The Washington Post

Only in Vegas: State moves to regulate party buses

The Las Vegas strip. (Photo/Las Vegas News Bureau, Darrin Bush)

A growing industry of luxury vehicles decked out with stripper poles and strobe lights transporting passengers up and down the Las Vegas Strip has Nevada regulators moving to impose new rules on, and definitions of, rolling “ultra lounges.”

The Nevada Transportation Authority will meet within the next few months to decide on draft rules [pdf] that would create a new category of transportation services. The rules would label high-capacity luxury vehicles with special alterations as “livery limousines,” subject to separate regulations from shuttle services and buses.

Livery limousines would be defined as vehicles originally built to hold between nine and 16 passengers, or vehicles tricked out with add-ons like “a pole or other apparatus generally used for dancing,” “nightclub-style lighting such as rotating lights, strobe lights or lasers,” or a fog machine.

Any coach that operates as a bus must be devoid of stripper poles, nightclub lighting and fog machines under the proposed rules.

Stripper poles in particular have been an issue on the Strip before. Five years ago, two Las Vegas strip clubs sent dancers out in moving vans with Plexiglas walls to generate publicity. The clubs ended the practice after several Clark County Commissioners said they had concerns about distracted drivers.

Las Vegas limousine drivers support the new rules, which an industry trade group said would protect them from competitors who call their service a limousine without obtaining the necessary limo licenses. Limousine licenses are more difficult to obtain than charter bus licenses, and many operators label their charter buses as limousines.

“So you have several charter bus companies in Las Vegas that will take a bus, gut the inside of it, put in couches, put in stripper poles, put in lights and then hold themselves out as a party bus company,” Brent Bell, president of the Livery Operators Association, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “They’ll advertise it as a ‘party limo.’ They’re advertising it as a limo without a limo license.”

Nevada cannot regulate interstate bus travel, where operators are overseen by the federal Department of Transportation.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

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