POLITICS

B.C. government introduces new rules for province's party-bus industry

02/26/2015 08:59 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT
VICTORIA - New rules have been rolled out for a B.C. industry that's supposed to be about good times but has come under scrutiny after the deaths of at least two teens.

The Ministry of Transportation says operators of stretch SUVs, limo-buses and party buses with perimeter seating used to receive a licence that allowed them to set rates, work anywhere in B.C. and add vehicles to their fleets.

But now it says an independent tribunal known as the Passenger Transportation Board will approve each vehicle for a special authorization licence and will regulate rates, areas of operation and fleet size.

Attorney General Suzanne Anton says the change will allow the government to better regulate the industry and ensure operators are following their licence terms.

New Democrat George Heyman says the change is a first step in protecting young people, referring to the deaths of 16-year-olds Shannon Raymond and Ernest Azoadam.

Raymond and Azoadam died in 2008 and 2013, respectively, in incidents related to party buses in the Metro Vancouver communities of Maple Ridge and Surrey.

Azoadam collapsed and died on a party bus and while police said there was evidence of alcohol on the bus, the B.C. Coroner's Service concluded neither drugs nor alcohol caused his death.

Raymond died of an overdose of ecstasy taken while she and friends were celebrating a birthday on a party bus.