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A Vancouver councillor’s push to regulate the Wild West-like party bus industry is supported by some operators.02 Feb 2014

Next Wednesday, Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs will seek to pressure Victoria for new oversight & standards for party buses, with council motion. Sources estimate since the run-up to 2010 Winter Games, 4,000 vehicles have crowded into the “party bus” sector

A Vancouver councillor’s push to regulate the Wild West-like party bus industry is supported by some operators.

Next Wednesday, Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs will seek to pressure Victoria to enact new oversight and standards for party buses, with a council motion.

Meggs told The Province Friday that industry sources estimate that since the run-up to the 2010 Winter Games, 4,000 vehicles have crowded into the “party bus” sector.

As the business environment gets tougher, some operators maintain good standards and others are simply trying to stay afloat and “will make any deal” to land customers, Meggs said.

The industry has come under fire in recent years with incidents of underage drinking and wild partying leading to hospital visits and worse.
In February 2012, 16-year-old Ernest Azoadam died on a party bus in Surrey. Meggs said that following the tragedy former transportation minister Mary Polak seemed open to changes, but nothing has happened yet. Good regulations and enforcement would improve safety and business conditions, according to Meggs.

“This is crushing the economics of reputable operators,” Meggs said. “Basically I’d like Victoria to look at similar regulations for party buses as we have for limos and taxis, with chauffeur permits.”

Tommy Cuscito, president of Vancouver Party Buses, said he will attend council next week in support of Meggs’ motion.

“With the stigma that has been attached to party buses since the young man died last year, the reputable companies, we’re all down about 50 to 60 per cent,” Cuscito said. “My company is down $125,000.”

Currently liquor cannot legally be consumed in a travelling vehicle.

Cuscito said he believes adults should be permitted to consume alcoholic drinks in limos and on party buses, but their must be zero tolerance for underage drinking. He said in order to regulate consumption of liquor on buses, operators should have to obtain permits that are similar to liquour licenses.

Meggs said that since party buses operate regionally, with many travelling from suburbs bound for the Granville Strip, provincial regulation is a necessity. Regulatory changes would come through the Passenger Transportation Branch.

Meggs said he hasn’t heard any positive or negative response from Victoria on his planned motion, so far.

The ministry of transportation did not respond to questions for this story Friday.

scooper@theprovince.com