Metro Council member files bill to regulate 'transportainment' in Nashville

Posted at 10:48 AM, Sep 10, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Council Member Freddie O’Connell is filing a bill that would regulate "transportainment" in Nashville.

O’Connell, who represents district 19, made the announcement Friday morning via Twitter, saying the bill would “seek to bring larger vehicles—party buses, tractors, hot tubs—into regulatory parity with other vehicles—golf carts, pedal carriages—under the jurisdiction of Metro’s Transportation Licensing Commission.”

After recent calls for increased safety measures, he says the bill also proposes to limit open containers in unenclosed vehicles.

“We will continue to explore options with industry as we work to keep the entertainment district welcoming and safe,” O’Connell tweeted in part.

The Big Drag Bus is still relatively new to Nashville but owner Josh Cloud says he's been in the Nashville entertainment industry for a long time.

"I have fallen in love with the city; from being on the road day after day after day for 10 years."

Soon, Cloud and other transpotainment owners could be faced with a different set of rules.

Right now, the authority of these large vehicles which include party buses, tractor pulls, and hot tub trucks fall under the state.

"We are welcome to common since regulations, we would love to sit down with O’Connell. We want to be part of the solution and not the problem," said Cloud.

Council member O'Connell's bill would place these vehicles under City control and jurisdiction, like it has for golf carts, pedal taverns and scooters.

"There's nothing about you being able to operate that encourages your people have to woo at high schoolers at Hume-Fogg. There's nothing about being able to operate without a regulatory framework that says you have to blast your tractor horn when you're going under a residential building's windows."

O'Connell says this is not a ban.

The bill would also call for licensing or permits to serve alcohol.

"If you leave this unregulated, it's clear the past couple of years, self-policing isn't doing anything to improve quality of life for Nashvillians particularly those who live anywhere close to downtown," O'Connell said.

But some owners say it's not a fair solution if they're not involved in the decision making.

"They're throwing the baby out with the bath water with this; we feel that not all transpotainment is equal."

Cloud says safety and respect are his business top priorities.

A recent petition from Safe Fun Nashville called for increased safety measures after a man fell from a party bus back in July. So far, more than 2,000 have signed the petition, which is asking the state legislature and Metro Council to create better safety standards.

Safe Fun Nashville also asked the Nashville Transportation Licensing Commission to enforce existing rules to maintain safety on Lower Broadway and other tourist areas around the city.

The group released a statement Friday in response to the filing:

“We’re proud to see a real first step to making downtown a safer place to live, work, learn, and play. Council Member O’Connell’s legislation will not only close loopholes that have allowed the worst offenders among transportainment to run rampant, but will ensure that Nashville will remain a vibrant, safe place for visitors and residents alike,” said Jim Schmitz, co-organizer for Safe Fun Nashville. “Now it’s time for the rest of Metro Council and Mayor Cooper to pass this legislation and clean up the party vehicle scene before someone else ends up under the wheels of a bus.”

Related story: Even some transpotainment owners want the City of Nashville to regulate their business