A decade old policy around carrying alcohol on public transit during Canada Day has changed.
In response to public input and “after careful consideration”, BC Transit announced a change in its policy regarding the transportation of alcohol on buses in the Victoria Regional Transit System.
This modification applies specifically to Canada Day, allowing passengers to carry unopened alcohol on board, similar to the regulations in place on every other day.
Up until Friday morning, BC Transit strictly prohibited any form of alcohol on its buses on July 1st, including open containers or consumption and had signs displayed at bus stops.
This change brings Canada Day in line with the policy followed throughout the rest of the year. The intent behind this change is to ensure consistency and coherence in BC Transit’s regulations.
The previous ban on alcohol was implemented in 2009 following incidents during past Canada Day celebrations in Victoria. Rowdy individuals under the influence of alcohol caused disruptions, damaged buses, and even assaulted fellow passengers.
Consequently, BC Transit, City of Victoria and VicPD felt compelled to establish a zero-tolerance policy on Canada Day.
In previous years, police officers would board buses during Canada Day to conduct random searches of riders’ bags.
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Unopened bottles of alcohol were confiscated from individuals who were suspected of carrying them to the downtown celebrations. While these measures were taken with the intention of preventing unruly behavior, they also received criticism from some members of the public.
Many people took to social media arguing the alcohol ban hindered the efforts of those who wished to celebrate Canada Day without relying on personal vehicles and sought a safe means of transportation.
While this policy change may invite concerns about potential disruptions or incidents during Canada Day celebrations, BC Transit said it is committed to upholding the safety and well-being of its passengers and employees.
“Inappropriate or illegal behavior will continue to be managed as necessary in collaboration with local police,” a BC Transit spokesperson said in a statement.
BC Transit said the decision was made following careful consideration and public input, with the aim of striking a balance between facilitating celebrations and ensuring a secure transportation option.
Due to the holiday, BC Transit will operate on a Sunday schedule, with late night service added.