Operators are now required to have a safety monitor on board when minors are travelling in a party bus or limousine under new regulations put in place by the B.C. government.
The new rules will apply to all limousine and party bus bookings made after April 1. The operator will be responsible for ensuring the safety monitor has first-aid training and has had a record check. Safety monitors must have certifications showing they meet minimum first-aid training requirements, including how to administer Naloxone.
B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena made an announcement about the changes on Wednesday in Victoria ahead of high school graduation season across the province.
“Grad season should be a memorable time for teens to celebrate their accomplishments with friends and family. Unfortunately, this industry has been largely unregulated for too long,” Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena.
“We never want to see avoidable incidents destroying lives. That’s why we’re bringing in new rules that will further strengthen the party bus industry and help ensure our kids arrive home safely at the end of the night.”
The sister of Mape Ridge teen Shannon Raymond, who died in 2008 at the age of 16 after consuming alcohol and ecstasy on a party bus, said the family is thankful for the new regulations.
“We have fought hard for these regulation changes, but we didn’t do it alone. We have so much gratitude to George Heyman, Claire Trevena and many others,” Danielle Raymond said.
“All we wanted was for people, especially teens, to be safe. Had someone been looking out for Shannon that night, we think she’d still be here. Her death was so senseless and preventable. We carry her loss with us, and we are going to miss her every day for the rest of our lives.
Last fall, the B.C. government raised fines for all party buses and commercial vehicles that do not display valid decals showing they’ve passed a safety inspection. Fines have been raised from $81 to $318. Operators of party buses and limousines also have to obtain consent forms from parents and guardians.
The Passenger Transportation Amendment Act, passed in fall 2018, includes a substantial increase in the administrative fine the registrar can give operators who fail to comply with the act, the regulations, or the terms and conditions of their licence from $1,500 to a maximum of $50,000. This regulation will go into force later in 2019.
The transportation ministry is also reminding the public that it is against the law to consume alcohol and cannabis inside a vehicle. RCMP and local police will be doing focused enforcement during the graduation season.