DfT consults on tightening rules on community transport group operators19 February 2018

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The Department for Transport (DfT) is asking for comments about proposed changes to law and guidance about who can operate public service vehicles (PSVs) without a PSV licence. Since 1985, all community transport groups that are operating on a not-for-profit basis have been able to apply for permits to carry passengers in a bus or minibus without first holding the Public Service Vehicle operator’s licence (PSV licence) that would otherwise be required.

In a consultation document (see link below), the government said that it remains committed to supporting the sector and to maintaining the permit system. However, concerns have recently been raised that some community transport operators that use permits are competing with commercial operators, which are required to hold a PSV licence. This is not allowed by European Union (EU) law, which only exempts operators from holding PSV licences in limited circumstances.

The government is consulting on how to clarify domestic law and guidance to ensure fair competition for commercial contracts and greater clarity for operators as to their EU legal obligations.

In the document, it states that the majority of community transport operators should not be affected by any clarification of the EU rules. It is important to be clear that the EU rules only apply to vehicles with more than eight passenger seats, and that the EU rules exempt operators of such vehicles if their primary purpose is not transport, or if they operate services that cannot be properly considered commercial.

DfT also said that it is making £250,000 available to fund advice for operators who need a PSV licence, working with DVSA to ensure that enforcement is proportionate for operators who demonstrate that they are working towards compliance, and it has written to local authorities to explain that there is no need for them to cancel contracts precipitately.

It adds: “We hope that together these steps will reassure the sector, allow those CT operators which are affected to continue to provide valuable services for passengers while they work toward compliance, and to minimise any additional costs which they will incur.”

The proposals only apply to England, Wales and Scotland.

The consultation closes on Friday 4 May 2018.

Will Dalrymple

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