Fleet News

Feature: minibuses

ANY fleet worth its salt will have lots of guidelines for its company car drivers.

It is also likely that its van drivers are well regulated, with plenty of policies in place to ensure things run smoothly on the road.

But these are both regular types of transport, something fleet managers will be well used to dealing with every working day. But what of occasional use vehicles, only needed once in a while and often by people not used to driving them?

Minibuses have strict rules covering their use for business. As a fleet manager, it’s worth being up to speed on the legislation surrounding drivers, as well as the vehicles themselves.

Perhaps the company hires a minibus once in a while to ferry staff, or pick up important clients. If so, does the bus come with a driver, or does a colleague jump behind the wheel? Do the passengers contribute towards the cost?

To help you through the minibus maze, Fleet NewsNet continues its serialisation of Colin Tourick’s fleet bible Managing Your Company Cars focusing this week on the rules about carrying people. A minibus is defined as a motor vehicle designed to carry between eight and 16 people plus the driver. When used for hire and reward, vehicles have to undergo an annual inspection from year one, covering such items as brakes, lights, seatbelts and labelling of emergency exits.

Behind the wheel

IF you wish to take a minibus abroad (except Eire), it must be fitted with a tachograph. This is required on all vehicles capable of carrying more than eight passengers. You will also need the following:

  • Way bill. This exempts the driver from the local licensing rules abroad. It can be obtained from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (020 7240 3131).
  • VE103. This is required if the minibus is leased. It replaces the V5 and confirms the vehicle is on hire and that the registered keeper has consented to it being taken abroad.
  • Proof of insurance.
  • A driver’s licence. This must show D or D1 entitlement. If you hold an older-style paper driving licence, take an official translation.

    Hire and reward

    THIS means carrying passengers who pay a fare or who contribute to the cost of the vehicle. This includes minibuses used by airlines or hotels as courtesy vehicles.

    If you passed your driving test in a car, your licence does not allow you to drive a nine to 16-seater minibus for hire or reward. If the licence was awarded after January 1, 1997 the driver has to be over 21 to drive for hire or reward.

    There are exceptions:

  • A section 19 permit can be issued by the Department for Transport (DfT) to educational, religious and cultural organisations. It allows these organisations to charge for use of the minibus without having to comply with normal public service vehicle licensing requirements and without the drivers needing to pass the ‘public carrying vehicle test’.

    The organisation must only offer the service to its members rather than the general public and it is not allowed to make a profit from the service.

  • Section 22 permit holder. These are community bus permits, issued by the DfT, allowing local bus services to be operated on a voluntary basis using volunteer drivers.
  • If a driver holding only a car licence wishes to drive a minibus for hire or reward without section 19 or a section 22 permit, he or she has to apply to the DfT for a category D licence. This replaces the old PSV licence.

    Licences

    YOUR entitlement to drive a minibus depends on whether you passed your driving test before January 1, 1997. If you are allowed to drive a minibus on your UK licence you’ll be entitled to do so elsewhere in the EU on temporary visits.

    If you passed your driving test before January 1, 1997 you will have automatically been given D1 (minibus) or A (licences issued before 1990) entitlement to drive a minibus as long as you are over age 20, the minibus has no more than 27 seats (including the driver’s seat) and is not being used for hire or reward.

    If you passed your test after January 1, 1997, your licence does not automatically give you an entitlement to drive a minibus. You are only allowed to drive category B vehicles, which are those with up to eight passenger seats.

    However, there are exceptions to this rule.

    If you are a volunteer unpaid drive you can drive vehicles with up to 16 passenger seats within the UK for social purposes only, so long as all these conditions are met:

  • You are driving for a non-commercial body.
  • You are age 21 or older.
  • You have held a driving licence for at least two years and maximum gross weight of the vehicle does not exceed 3.5 tonnes.
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