Legislation calls for tougher party bus rules in B.C.

A B.C. MLA has put forward a bill calling for stricter rules around the province's party bus industry.

Provincial government says B.C.'s party bus rules are enough as is

Chelsea James died in early 2016 after falling from the Silver Lady party bus. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

A B.C. MLA has put forward a bill calling for stricter rules around the province's party bus industry. 

Drinking is illegal on party buses in B.C., but NDP MLA George Heyman, who represents Vancouver-Fairview, says that doesn't go far enough.

"B.C. has witnessed more party bus-related incidents and fatalities," Heyman said. "It's time to admit that relying on minimal regulation has failed repeatedly with tragic results."

Heyman is calling for three main changes to the Safeguarding Young Peoples' Future Act, which was first tabled in 2014. 

  1. Banning advertising of drinking on party buses and fining companies that do so.
  2. Requiring party bus companies to staff their vehicles with a chaperone so drivers aren't expected to monitor passengers as well as operate the vehicle.
  3. Requiring drivers to take safety training.

Other changes included a "safe drop-off" provision to keep intoxicated or sick passengers from being forced to leave at an unsafe location.

Family backs call for change

The family of Shannon Raymond, a 16-year-old who died after taking drugs on a party bus, is backing Heyman's bill. 

"Had there been a chaperone on that bus we wouldn't be standing here today because Shannon would still be alive," said her mother, Julie Raymond. 

Heyman also referred to the death of Chelsea James, who died after falling out of a party bus.

"Had there been a person monitoring conditions on the bus, we could at least hope that she wouldn't have fallen out of the bus and if she had, the bus would have stopped instead of running her over," Heyman said.

The provincial government says the current rules are strong enough.

"Where chaperones are required are jurisdictions like Washington State, where alcohol can legally be consumed [on the bus]," said Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

Stone added that the government has already stiffened penalties, which has led to five recent administrative fines and one company having its license revoked.