The provincial government is enacting more safety measures on party buses to protect minors, in response to ongoing concerns with the industry.
A Maple Ridge mother who lost her daughter after a night on a party bus agreed with the changes, which now include parental consent forms, and said she has helped to tighten the industry.
Julie Raymond lost her daughter a decade ago. Shannon was just 16 when she died of a drug overdose. She had been on a party bus in July 2008, and taken a lethal combination of the club drug ecstasy and alcohol. She was found dead at a Maple Ridge home at 6 a.m. on July 26.
“We worked with the NDP extensively when the Liberals were in government,” she said.
She kept up the lobby, telling the government that the Christmas season and graduation are key times.
“I’ve been telling government, if you don’t make these changes, the law of averages will continue, and there will be more deaths or incidents.”
The government shares her viewpoint.
“These changes are long overdue. Families have been waiting a long time for stricter safety standards that help boost safety every single time a minor is traveling on a party bus,” said Claire Trevena, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “I’m very pleased to see these new requirements start up in time for the holiday season and New Year’s Eve.”
Starting with new bookings made after Dec. 1, 2018, operators will be required to obtain consent forms from parents and guardians so they know kids and teenagers are safe when getting into a party bus.
These consent forms contain information about the pickup and drop-off times, locations, procedures for the particular excursion, legal and safety requirements of party bus services, and how to report a concern or get more information about passenger safety. Drivers will check the identification of all passengers and, before departing, confirm there is a consent form for each unaccompanied minor.
Operators who add new vehicles to their fleets and newly licensed operators will be required to provide safety monitors when transporting minors, effective Dec 1, 2018. As of April 1, 2019, all party bus operators will be required to provide safety monitors.
Operators must provide a safety monitor who is at least 25 years of age and has an appropriate background check and training.
Two other families have lost their children in party bus incidents since Julie’s death.
“They’re great – too late for my daughter… but it puts the safeguards in place so no other families have to go through what these families did,” said Raymond.