British Columbia

Province tightens party bus rules but not enough, says mother of child killed in accident

The B.C. government is introducing new party bus rules ahead of the 2019 grad season.

Safety chaperones now required with minors on board, but mom still pushing for mechanical regulations

The coroner's report makes five recommendations to the province aimed at improving safety, including a tracking system to make sure commercial vehicles are forced to comply with orders and to ensure all repairs are documented. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

The B.C. government is bringing in stricter rules to beef up safety for party buses, just in time for the 2019 graduation season.

"Up until now, the party bus industry has been largely unregulated," Transportation Minister Claire Trevena told reporters in Victoria.

Under new measures announced Wednesday, operators will now be required to have a safety monitor on board when minors are travelling on a bus or in a limousine.

The chaperones must pass a criminal record check and have first-aid certification, including training on how to administer naloxone in case of a drug overdose.

"We know from conversations with industry that some operators already do this," said Trevena. "They see it as best practice, but now it's going to be the rule for all operators."

'It's not enough'

In 2016, Chelsea James, 23, died after falling out of an open door on a party bus en route from Langley to Vancouver.

She was one of 28 people on board when she stumbled against the pneumatic passenger door as the vehicle turned left off Hastings Street onto Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver.

Shelly James's daughter Chelsea James, right, died just two weeks before her 24th birthday. (Submitted)

The door opened, and James fell out of the vehicle onto the pavement where she was run over.A police investigation later revealed the door was not functioning properly, because the safety latch was gone and a valve was put in backwards.Her mother, Shelly James, has been calling for tighter safety rules ever since and says this latest announcement doesn't address mechanical requirements. 

"The regulations that are [currently in place] are not safe and are not enough for this type of vehicle that is transporting youth," James told CBC News.

"Please look into what the criteria is, number one and number two — what is going to be done?"

Last fall, fines quadrupled for all party buses and commercial vehicles that don't display valid decals showing they've passed a safety inspection.

While James is pleased with the measures already taken, she hopes the government will go further to force more accountability.

Criminal charges were not recommended in connection with the death.

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