by: Tom Regan Updated:
ATLANTA - A Channel 2 Action News investigation found nearly 120 party buses, limousines and passenger carriers are listed as operating illegally by the state.
"This is a huge safety issue," said Tim Echols, Chairman of the Georgia Public Service Commission.
The PSC certifies party bus and limousine company owners. They must provide proof of insurance and submit to a criminal background check, among other requirements. Echols said uncertified vehicles can pose a risk to passengers.
"I call them rogue companies or black market companies, because essentially they're operating under the radar," said Echols.
Echols said one of the uncertified operators is Fantasy Riderz. The party bus is a converted school bus equipped with free-standing couches, chairs, a bar and private VIP area.
Two Channel 2 Action New producers went undercover and spoke with owner Eddie Thomas.
"All I know [is] if you all smoke weed, if they do, have them in the back," said Thomas.
He also said he wasn’t a pimp but admitted to receiving compensation for his dancers' services, though he did not specify what they do.
"If they did something on the bus, they got to give me some money for being in the back," said Thomas.
Channel 2’s Tom Regan confronted Thomas, who said he did not allow illegal activities on his bus. He also said he is in the process of getting proper certification.
Echols said the PSC has no enforcement capability to crack down on illegal operators. In July, the Georgia State Patrol will take over responsibility for licensing and enforcement of regulations for party buses and other passenger carriers.