Regulation increases safety, accountability in B.C. limousine industry

THE Government of B.C. has amended the Passenger Transportation Regulation governing licensing for limousines. The change will increase safety by making operators – and each of their vehicles – more accountable, create a level playing field in the industry, and allow government to better enforce the industry.

Now, all limousine operators with perimeter seating vehicles such as stretch SUVs and limo-buses must have each vehicle in their fleet approved by the Passenger Transportation Board, an independent tribunal, for a Special Authorization licence. This will include perimeter seating specialty vehicles that deliver party bus service.

This change eliminates the competitive advantage that General Authorization limousine licensees previously had, which allowed them to set rates, work anywhere in the province, and add vehicles to their fleet at any time. Under a Special Authorization licence, rates, areas of operation and fleet size are regulated by the Board. There will be a more extensive review process of applicants prior to licensing and the Board can also initiate a fitness review of operators.

With this change, the Passenger Transportation Registrar will have information on all vehicles operating under the authority of the licence, and will know exactly where the vehicles are operating. This will assist with auditing and other enforcement measures. Vehicles will have unique identifier plates so the local police and Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement officers will be able to easily identify the vehicles and determine whether they are operating within the terms of their licence.

Licensees who currently have a General Authorization licence and want to continue to operate their perimeter seating vehicles will have until May 1, 2015, to get a Special Authorization licence. New operators intending to use vehicles with primarily perimeter seating must apply for a Special Authorization licence effective immediately through the Board’s regular application process.

Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone said: “This is a positive change that significantly increases safety in British Columbia’s limousine industry by making operators more accountable and by allowing for stronger enforcement. This is about ensuring the regulations are more effective in protecting the travelling public.”

Attorney General and Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said: “Drinking alcohol on a party bus, limo, SUV or any other vehicle continues to be illegal and police will continue to enforce this law on B.C.’s roads. Now, with these changes for limousines with perimeter seating, government will be better able to regulate the industry, ensuring that operators adhere to the strengthened terms and conditions of their licences.”

Passenger Transportation Board Chair Don Zurowski said: “Licensees and stakeholders have consistently told the board that there is an unfair playing field between holders of Special Authorization and General Authorization licences. The new regulation directly addresses these concerns and will promote rate and operational stability in the industry.”