Party bus inspections on the rise following tougher regulations and fines, says province
VANCOUVER -- As the holiday season approaches, an industry that has seen deaths and some risky situations is now under increased scrutiny, according to the province.
The government says 2019 will mark a new high in the number of inspections conducted on party buses and limousines in BC in recent years, but they can’t yet provide the hard data to show how many vehicles have been checked, how many infractions have been discovered, and how many tickets or fines have been handed out.
"Our checks are still continuing and we’re tallying the numbers," said Perry Dennis, deputy director with the Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement Branch.
Surrey Guildford MLA Garry Begg said by the end of this year, enforcement officers will have conducted more checks on party buses and limos than in the previous three years combined.
"We’ve also increased the number of inspectors," said Begg. "There will be, all throughout this season and again when graduation time comes around, additional sort of boots on the ground to deal with it."
The industry has seen a toughening up of regulations and increased penalties with maximum fines jumping to $50,000 for non-compliance. New regulations now require a safety monitor trained in first aid to be on board with any unaccompanied minors. Operators also have to obtain consent from parents before minors can travel with them.
Julie Upton Raymond and her family have been lobbying for changes ever since her 16-year-old daughter Shannon died after taking ecstasy and drinking on a party bus in 2008. She told CTV News while news of the increased inspections comes "too little, too late" for her family, it has the potential to help other people.
"It goes a long way to prevent that same tragedy unfolding for other families," she said.
There have been other concerning incidents involving party buses this year, including a video that surfaced in July of a man on the roof of a moving bus, which sparked an investigation. In September, the Surrey RCMP said they stopped a party bus over the summer carrying 40 drunk underage passengers.
Upton Raymond believes the new fines will be a deterrent. She also wants parents to ask tough questions if their children are taking a party bus to ensure the rules are being followed.
"I didn’t ask those hard questions because I trusted her and I trusted the people she was with," said Upton Raymond. "Be diligent. I wasn’t. My daughter died."