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Washington Lawmakers Consider 'Party Bus' Safety

Colin Fogarty


Washington lawmakers are considering whether to beef up oversight of the party bus industry. At a public hearing Monday, the head of the state agency that regulates in-state bus lines said it’s a matter of safety.

Party buses are parties on wheels with limousine-style seating, flashing lights, music, video and sometimes even dance poles. They’ve been involved in fatal wrecks across the nation.

Dave Danner, who heads Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission, told a panel of Washington lawmakers that he needs more tools to regulate this emerging industry. He also wants a ban on double-decker party buses.

"Because, sad to say, that the second leading cause of death on a party bus — and this has happened to three people — involved their passengers on double-decker buses having their heads hit overpasses," Decker said.

None of those deaths were in Washington. But in 2012, an 11-year-old girl died in Portland when she fell out of the window of a party bus. 

The proposal before the Washington legislature would also prohibit party bus operators from furnishing alcohol.

Passengers could bring alcohol on board with a special permit from the state Liquor Control Board.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.