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300 Communities share £25 million minibus fund

Posted by [email protected] on April 24, 2015 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

From:Department for TransportFirst published:26 March 2015 Part of:Accessible transport, Local transport, Local government, Transport and UK economy

Hundreds of minibuses will support charities and revitalise local communities community transport minibus fund

More than 300 local charities and community groups across England will receive new minibuses from the Department for Transport’s £25 million community transport minibus fund, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has announced today (26 March 2015).


The funding will help elderly residents, people with learning and physical disabilities and those who do not have access to a commercial bus service.


The minibuses will improve the everyday lives of people in rural communities and provide a vital link to medical services, shops, and social events.


Following this first round of allocations, the Department for Transport will look to using the fund to support additional schemes this summer.


‎The Transport Secretary marked the announcement with a visit to one of the successful schemes, Halesworth Area Community Transport in Suffolk. Mr McLoughlin said:


I know first-hand how important transport providers like these can be to keep rural areas alive and protect the independence of local residents. They are often the lifeblood of local communities so it is only right that the government gives them the support they deserve.


This £25 million fund will buy over 300 new vehicles, some specially adapted, to help these organisations continue to carry out their important work in the community. We have had an overwhelming response, which demonstrates the importance of this fund, and I am keen to support similar schemes in the future.


The winners from across the country will each receive a 9 to 16-seater minibus specifically tailored to their requirements - such as disability-friendly access and adapted seating.


The Department for Transport announced the funding and criteria last November and invited applications until January.


A full list of successful applications – sorted by region – has been published on GOV.UK.

Driving a minibus abroad, more info

Posted by [email protected] on April 23, 2015 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (1)

If driving a minibus abroad in EU countries you must be certain you are not driving for hire or reward and even if for private use you must use a Tachograph, Speed limiter, Own Account Certificate or EU Journey Form (Waybill) and comply with Driver’s Hours Regulations. 

It may be possible to drive in another EU country if the minibus is not being used for hire or reward but depends on how the trip is being paid for. You must be certain that passengers are not contributing to the cost of their trip in any way, even if part of a larger charge for a holiday. In reality this seldom applies. If passengers are contributing then all drivers must have full D1 or D entitlement, obtained by passing a PCV D/D1 driving test.  

a/Where the operation of a minibus is genuinely not for hire or reward, drivers with D1 (101) or D1 79 (NFHR) may drive abroad. 

b/ Drivers who only have category B entitlement on their licences (ie licences issued 1st January 1997 onwards) must NOT drive a minibus abroad, even if it is not being used for hire and reward. 

c/ On old style 'pink or green' driving licences issued before 1st June 1990, 'A' rather than 'D1' is shown on the licences. Drivers intending to visit other EU countries should have at least one year’s experience of driving a minibus, as required by EU Regulation 3820/85. In such cases, drivers are required to obtain an INTP5, a certificate of experience of driving a minibus from their Local Traffic Area Office 

If you are not operating for hire or reward this does not exempt you from all the other requirements for driving abroad

Even if your trip is a private one for your own family, if it is in a minibus (9 to 16 passenger seats) it will still come under the rules that govern international journeys by bus and coach. This still applies even if there are less than 8 passengers travelling in the minibus. This means that the requirements that still apply include:

 Tachograph

 Speed limiter

 Own Account Certificate or EU Journey Form (Waybill)

 Driver’s Hours Regulations. 

Safety update for wheelchair accessible minibuses

Posted by [email protected] on April 12, 2015 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Safety for wheelchair users has always been a priority for owners of accessible minibuses.

On 29 October 2014, a change in the construction regulations for new accessible minibuses brings the

regulations into line with best practice. It should also help to ensure that the safety of wheelchair

users is closer to that of seated passengers in the same minibus.

Research has shown that 3-point lap and diagonal safety belts for wheelchairs, where the shoulder

belt has a high level mounting above shoulder level, are much more effective in a crash than the older

type 2-point belts, where the shoulder belt goes over the shoulder and then down to floor level to

secure in the tracking. Changes in construction regulations now make the safer 3-point safety belts

compulsory in new vehicles. In most cases, that will mean a line of tracking fitted above window level,

on the so-called cant rail, to provide an upper mounting for the wheelchair user’s shoulder belt.

The key points are:

• From 29 October 2014, new accessible minibuses must have provision for 3-point passenger

restraints for wheelchair users – ie an upper mounting for the shoulder belt.

• There is no requirement to retro-fit cant rail tracking to existing vehicles – and it may not be

feasible or cost-effective to do so on an older vehicle.

• Where cant rail tracking is already fitted to an existing accessible minibus, it should be used for

3-point lap and diagonal passenger safety belts for wheelchair users. This is not a legal

requirement but it is best practice and has been for quite some time.

Many minibuses built over the last 10 years or so have cant rail tracking fitted but it is not always

used. If there were an accident and an injured wheelchair user had been provided with an old floorfixing

2-point lap and diagonal belt, when they could have used a safer 3-point belt as the vehicle had

cant rail tracking fitted, the operator could be found to have failed to comply with best practice and this

could be deemed to be evidence of negligence. So if your minibus has cant rail tracking fitted, make

sure that you have 3-point safety belts so that you can use it. If you have Unwin’s equipment, it

should be possible to buy an extra strap instead of a whole new set of equipment.

Minibus Permits

Posted by [email protected] on April 5, 2015 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (1)

Minibus and Community Bus Permits (Section 19 permits) are issued to organisations concerned with education, social welfare or other activities of benefit to the community. They allow certain organisations, including schools, to make a charge without having to comply with the full public service vehicle operator requirements and without the need for the driver to have a PCV (Category D1 or D) entitlement.

Certain organisations can apply for a Minibus Permit, (Section 19 -Transport Act 1985) for vehicles that can carry between nine and sixteen passengers. The Permit allows organistations like volunteer groups concerned with education, religion, social welfare, recreations and other activities that are beneficial to the community to make a charge without having to comply with the full passenger carrying vehicle entitlement (PCV) operator licensing requirements and without the need for their drivers to have PCV entitlement.

Many community transport organisations and charities now operate minibuses under a section 19 permit which, allows for the service provided to be for the organisations’ own members or for groups of people whom the organisation serves. Such organisations can charge or accept a form of remuneration for providing transport at a level to recover some or all of the costs of running the vehicle, and may even include an allowance for vehicle depreciation but the service must not be provided to members of the general public and the charges made must be on a non-profit basis. This non-profit requirement extends to cover any direct costs connected with a particular trip such as expenses incurred by volunteers, but not the wages of any staff involved.

A driver of a Section 19 permit minibus can either be paid or an unpaid volunteer. It should be noted however, that volunteer minibus drivers who passed their car driving test after 1st January 1997 are restricted to drive minibuses which weigh no more that 3500kgs gross vehicle weight.NB. Schools must hold a ‘Section 19 permit’ if minibus journeys are funded to any extent by outside sources such as parents or parent teacher associations. Schools and educational establishments who do not charge their pupils do not normally need a section 19 permit. See driving a school minibus.


Section 19 permits can be obtained from your local Traffic Area Network Office or contact the Driver and Vehicle and Operator Standards Agency .

Tachographs on Minibuses

Posted by [email protected] on April 5, 2015 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Tachographs are installed to monitor the amount of time drivers spend driving a vehicle and new government legislation requires businesses, schools, charities and other organisations operating minibuses with 10-17 seats commercially, to fit new digital tachograph equipment which will need to be operational for use in the UK from April 2007.

All vehicles, over 3.5 tonnes (3500kg), registered after 1 May 2006 are legally required to have a digital tachograph fitted. Minibuses with more than eight passenger seats registered after 1 May 2006 will also need to be fitted with digital tachographs. Vehicles registered prior to this date will require a tachograph to be fitted retrospectively and these vehicles had until 31st December 2007 to comply. During this period of compliance until a tachograph is fitted, drivers must keep an extract of the duty roster and service timetable.

The new digital tachograph unit operates by use of a driver’s card which is inserted into the driver card slot located in the front of each unit. Each driver has his or her own individual card and should be used and kept with the driver at all times when undertaking any driving activity with a vehicle equipped with a tachograph unit. Driver’s cards are available from the DVLA at a cost of £38 each and will last for a period of 5 years.

There are some exceptions where tachographs will not be required for domestic work in the UK. These include the exclusive use of the minibus for the non-commercial carriage of passengers, or by a local authority to transport the elderly or disabled. Taking a minibus abroad

Taking a Minibus Abroad

Posted by [email protected] on April 5, 2015 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (1)

Minibuses which can carry 9 or more persons (including the driver) and are used on journeys to or from the continent or the Republic of Ireland, come within the scope of European Union (EU) and other international regulations governing international bus and coach journeys. Driving a minibus abroad requires compliance with more complex legislation.

The exceptions given by a Section 19 permit do not apply and a post 1 January 1997 licence cannot be used in any circumstances unless the necessary PCV test has been passed and an unrestricted D1 category added. Pre 1997 licenses could be used for some journeys where no students are being carried but in most cases these divers also need to have passed a PCV test.

EU Regulations also require a tachograph to be installed and used for international journeys and you will be required to comply with the EC Drivers' Hours Rules. For trips abroad, a tachograph must be used from the start of the journey in the UK, with a new disc for each day, continuing until the end of the return journey to the UK. There must be one chart per driver per driving day. There are heavy fines for failing to install and correctly use a tachograph. Deliberate falsification of a tachograph can also result in imprisonment.

Further information is also available from the Road Haulage Division, Department for Transport, Zone 2/11 Great Minster House, 76 Marsham Street, London, SW1P, 4DR. For general enquiries on taking a minibus abroad you should telephone 0300 330 3000.

Minibus Vehicle Checks what to do

Posted by [email protected] on April 5, 2015 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Before driving a school minibus you need to be aware of the following: 

Volunteers who drive a school minibus are personally responsible for its roadworthiness. 

For this reason it is essential that there is a proper vehicle maintenance system in operation and that certain basic checks are made before each journey begins. If there appear to be any faults which might affect the passengers’ safety, then the vehicle should not be used until they are all remedied. Driver checks should include:

• Vehicle road tax, (also Permit displayed if applicable)

• Fuel level, Oil level, Brake Fluid

• Tyres in good condition

• Windscreen wipers/ washers working

• Lights/brake lights working

• Indicators working

• Brakes (hand and pedal) working

• Fire extinguisher ( Extinguishers should comply with BS 5432 with a minimum test rating of 8A or 21B and

should contain water or foam or halon 1301 or 1211).

• Paperwork (insurance, driving licence)

• Seatbelts working properly

• Mobile phone available

• Fully stocked first aid kit (containing as a minimum : 10 foil packed antiseptic wipes; 1 conforming disposable bandage (7.5+ cm wide); triangular bandages; 1 packet of 24 assorted adhesive dressings; 3 large sterile unmedicated ambulance dressings (15 x 20 cm or more); 2 sterile eye pads and attachments; 12 assorted safety pins; 1 pair rustproof blunt-ended scissors; Sterile gloves and mouth masks. 

In addition to the above, there should also be a regular vehicle maintenance system in place to monitor more detailed mechanical matters such as tyre pressure, coolant level and brake fluid level. Check the handbook to satisfy yourself that these checks have also been recently undertaken so that you can be confident that the school minibus is safe before you set off. . 

Any defects found by the police if the vehicle is stopped, would be the responsibility of the driver who will personally receive any fine and / or subsequent points on their licence, or even prosecuted (depending on the seriousness of the offence). The driver would also be responsible for any road traffic offences committed. 

It is the driver's responsibility to make sure that the minibus insurance policy covers all the uses relevant to how the vehicle is being used. i.e the total number of passengers allowed, the total weight and all the people allowed to drive the minibus. 

Other useful equipment to carry in a minibus

• instructions and contact details for handling an emergency

• insurance policy details

• breakdown policy details, contact numbers etc

• mobile phone/phonecard/change for telephone - for emergencies

• high visibility coat (BS EN 471)

• portable flashing beacon

• working torch

• webbing cutter

• pen and paper 

Speed limits for minibuses(not towing a trailer) for A class roads (where a lower limit is not signposted ) is 50 mph. On a dual-carriageway the limit is 60 mph and 70 mph on motorways. When towing a trailer the limit on motorways is reduced to 60 m.p.h. It should also be noted that the outer (overtaking) lane of a three or four lane motorway must not be used when towing a trailer. 

That being said, from 1st January, 2007, there is a requirement for all diesel minibuses registered after 1st October 2001 to be fitted with a speed limiter restricting their maximum speed to 62mph. This was extended from 1st January 2008, after which date there was also be a requirement for all minibuses (petrol and diesel) registered after 1st January 2005 to be fitted with a speed limiter. 

By law, seat belts must be worn by drivers and passengers at all times. It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that all passengers comply with this regulation. New seat belt laws require children under 135cm to wear child restraints in addition to seat belts. Driver responsibilities will vary depending on the type of minibus driven. 

Ignorance to these seat belt laws will result in a new offence being committed, especially introduced for drivers of buses, coaches and minibuses. Drivers failing their passenger responsibilities can either expect to receive a £30 fixed penalty notice or a maximum fine of up to £500 if the case goes to court. Minibus owners and operators could also be fined a maximum of £2,500. 

A fire extinguisher and first aid kit must always be carried; 

Alcohol is illegal on buses going to and from sporting fixtures. 

Side lights must be on when the minibus is parked on the street at night 

Horns and reversing bleepers must not be used between 11.30 pm and 7.00 am (except on major roads).


HGV speed limit raised to 60 on dual carriageways

Posted by [email protected] on April 5, 2015 at 2:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The government has confirmed another speed limit increase for HGVs, raising the dual carriageway legal maximum speed from 50mph to 60mph.


The move follows July’s announcement that the single carriageway speed limit will rise from 40mph to 50mph.


Both increases will come into effect on 5 April 2015 and are being described by transport minister Claire Perry as a modernisation of outdated legislation from the 1980s.


“It is really important that speed limits for lorries reflect the needs of a modern transport network and improved vehicle technology,” she said.


“Britain has one of the best road safety records in the world and I am determined to ensure this continues.


“This change is about ensuring rules for lorry drivers’ speed limits are in line with other larger vehicles on our roads, creating a fairer and more proportionate system.”


However, European Union legislation means the effective speed limit increase won’t actually be quite as impressive as it first seems: lorries are limited to 56mph by EU law.


The new change does instead mean that lorries will be able to legally drive at the same limited speed as other large vehicles, rather than at a small and frustrating speed differential: it’s this difference, and the resulting slow overtaking of HGVs on dual carriageways, that the government is attempting to tackle with the new rules.