The following information is for managers, staff and others who are organising journeys for groups in large passenger carrying vehicles. It outlines the statutory requirements for operating passenger vehicles with 9 or more passenger seats.
Full details of operating procedures are contained in the Council's "Regulations for the Use of Vehicles" a copy of which is available to view and/or download from the Intranet.
Minibuses (9/16 passenger seats)
Vehicles operated by County Council Establishments (Including privately funded and self-drive hire vehicles)
Drivers must hold a driving license valid for the category of vehicle. Drivers of all vehicles insured by the County Council must also have successfully completed the Council's driving assessment.
Under Section 19 of The Transport Act 1985, certain organisations are allowed to charge for bus transport services without the need for a Public Service Vehicle Operator's License. For minibuses, organisations are issued with a Small Bus Permit. Passengers must not be asked to contribute towards the cost of a journey unless the vehicle is operated under a Permit. Permits can be obtained from the DVSA.
Each permit defines specific categories of passengers that can be carried. Members of the general public must not be carried and charges must only be made on a non-profit making basis.
An organisation will require a Small Bus Permit for its minibus if:
- passengers directly pay a charge per person for a journey
- passengers are invited to make a voluntary contribution
- passengers pay a total charge, e.g. for a holiday, which includes a proportion towards the cost of transport
- passengers pay for an activity at the end of a journey and their participation in that activity means they can expect to be carried on the vehicle which has been organised to take them there, even though there is no specific payment towards the cost of the journey
- the cost, or any part of the cost, of the bus, is taken from funds which include membership subscriptions from passengers
- the bus is hired, and part or all of the cost is shared among passengers
- passengers do not pay directly to use the vehicle but buy fuel for it
If no charge is made, then no permit is required. Any payment in cash or kind which gives the passengers the right to be carried is considered to be a charge.
The permit is valid for 5 years from the issue after which time it must be renewed.
Vehicles borrowed/hired from external voluntary organisations (non-profit)
Vehicles are sometimes borrowed from external voluntary organisations such as Community Bus Groups. The vehicle must be adequately insured for the purpose it is being used.
Drivers must be suitably licensed to drive the vehicle and must also have passed the Council's in-house driving test, even if the owner of the vehicle supplies the driver.
If the vehicle is being operated for hire and reward it must be operated under a Small Bus Permit. The passengers (or the group to which they belong) must be members of the organisation that owns the vehicle; alternatively, a Small Bus Permit Disc issued by DVSA must be attached to the vehicle. Ensure that the vehicle complies with the relevant Construction and Use Regulations for Permit Operations.
If a vehicle is hired by other owner/operators, this will fall into commercial operations.
The operator of the vehicle:
- must be a licensed Public Service Vehicle Operator.
- ensure the vehicle must be a certified Public Service Vehicle.
- must hold a driving license to drive Passenger Carrying Vehicles for hire and reward.
- must display a PSV operator's disc, coloured orange, blue or green.
Minibuses being used to carry a group of 3 or more children (aged 3 to 15 inclusive) on an organised trip must fulfil the following criteria:
- must have sufficient forward facing seats fitted with seat belts (lap or lap-diagonal) for the number of children to be carried.
- it is compulsory for all passengers (of any age) to wear seat belts in the rear of minibuses where fitted.
- for children aged up to and including 13 it is the driver's legal responsibility to ensure the belts are worn.
Large Passenger Carrying Vehicles (17 or more passenger seats)
A hired vehicle of this size will fall into commercial operations and the operator of the vehicle is required to fulfil the following requirements:
- must be a licensed Public Service Vehicle Operator
- vehicle must be a certified Public Service Vehicle
- the driver must hold a Driving License to drive Passenger Carrying Vehicles for hire and reward
- the vehicle must display a PSV Operator's Disc, coloured Blue or Green
For vehicles of this size, only coaches are required to be fitted with seat belts when carrying children. A coach is defined as a passenger vehicle which has a maximum authorised mass of 7.5 tonnes or more and which is capable of exceeding 60 mph.
When being used to carry a group of 3 or more children (aged from 3 to 15 inclusive) on an organised trip, coaches must be fitted with sufficient forward facing seats fitted with seat belts (lap or lap-diagonal) for the number of children to be carried.
There is no compulsion for any passenger to wear the seat belts on coaches other than in the exposed seats at the front or the middle exposed seat at the rear.
The driver has no responsibility to ensure that belts are worn.
Contact the Fleet Management Department for further advice on the operation of vehicles