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Bronx pols seek law to require chaperones for teens on party buses

Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo sponsor bill to stop “Party Bus” underage drinking

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This party needs a chaperone.

Local elected officials joined together with parents, supporters, and a “party bus” operator last week to announce plans for a crackdown on underage teens drinking on those buses.

The new legislation for the party buses would provide one chaperone per 20 underage people on board, which unlike coach buses allow for movement around the cabin, in an effort to halt teen drinking in what have been termed “clubs on wheels.”

Klein is pushing the legislation in the state Senate, while Soundview Assemblyman Marcos Crespo is prime sponsor of a similar bill in the assembly.

They were joined at the press conference Thursday, April 17 at the Villa Barone Manor by Matt Delany, the owner of Coachman Luxury Transport, , whose ‘party bus’ was stopped on a Long Island highway with teen drinkers on board in a recent controversial incident, and Frances Maturo, executive director of the Throggs Neck Community Action Partnership, a local organization that seeks to curb teen drinking.

Prom season coming

“We cannot allow our roadways to become free-for-alls for underage drinking,” said Klein. “We are incredibly lucky that none of the children on that bus were hurt,” he added, referring to the Long Island incident where a Coachman bus was pulled off the road and alcohol was found among 42 underage riders, who were on a trip to Montauk, LI.

“The sad truth is that with prom season approaching, thousands of teens will try to jump aboard party buses and abuse alcohol, all in the name of celebration,” said Klein. “Sadly, these underage revelers fail to understand the tragic consequences that often lay ahead. By passing this bill, we will be putting chaperones on board who can make sure that our teens are having a good, safe time and that party bus drivers can concentrate on the road.”

Safety devices

The legislation also requires bus companies to install new safety devices on emergency exits to alert drivers if they open.

Crespo, a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, will try to see the term “Party Bus” defined for the state Department of Transportation for the first time. Currently, laws on party buses are nonexistent, Klein said.

“With high school proms and warm weather right around the corner, it is more critical than ever that we pass this legislation,” said Crespo.

Crespo and Klein called Coachman owner Delany a responsible business owner and a “proactive” operator.

Also supporting the legislation is Assemblyman Michael Benedetto.

“This legislation will save lives,” said TNCAP’s Maturo, who noted that about 5,000 young people a year lose their lives due to alcohol.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 742–3393. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
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