Minibus legislation is a mine field and is often misunderstood by drivers, operators and minibus purchasers.
This brief guide seeks to offer some insight into minibus legislation but does not cover all aspects of ownership and operation. If there is a specific area where you need clarification please get in touch.
We will break this down into three areas: Construction; Operating; Driving.
Hold on to your hats, its about to get legal…
Type Approval is the legislation which governs the construction of all vehicles in the EU, including minibuses.
Vehicle Type Approval is confirmation that the vehicle meets prescribed standards. These standards derive from European Whole Vehicle Type Approval regulations (ECWVTA). For vehicles sold for use in the UK certification is likely to be achieved through National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA) or Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA). Standards for M1 passenger vehicles have been in place for several years, while those for multi-stage build M2 passenger vehicles (minibuses) became a legal requirement as from October 2011. The regulations for M2 Minibuses are complex and wide ranging. The regulations include hundreds of dimensions that must be observed, affecting the design of entrances and exits, gangways, seats and seat layouts. If a vehicle is not certified to meet Type Approval requirements, then it will not meet all the latest safety requirements and indeed aspects of its actual method of construction might be doubtful.
Buyer Beware! Despite it being illegal to offer for sale a vehicle that should be Type Approved but isn’t, there are still a number of rogue operators building or reselling vehicles which do not meet the standard. Find a reputable supplier and insist that your new vehicle is Type Approved.
There are three recognised methods of ownership / operation: Private; Commercial; Non Profit
With private ownership of a minibus there are no legal obligations over car ownership. You need the correct licence, insurance and to maintain the vehicle in a roadworthy condition. It is worth noting that if owned privately, the owner / driver may not receive payment in cash or kind, not even to cover expenses.
Commercial Operation used to be called Hire and Reward. This means payment in cash or in kind, direct or indirect, which entitles a passenger to travel is Hire and Reward. Where Hire and Reward exists, any bus (more than 8 passengers) must operate as a PSV. The organisation requires an operators licence a CPC (Certificate of Professional Competence) holder and any driver a PSV driving licence (category D or D1 without restrictions), CPC & tacho card.
Non-profit making organisations may recoup the vehicle’s running costs, by way of direct or indirect charges, once they have obtained a “Section 19” Minibus Permit. Similarly a “Section 22” Permit may be obtained where a specific non-profit making bus service is to be operated.
Driving Licences – the holder of an ordinary car driving licence which was obtained prior to January 1997, once aged 21 years minimum, may drive a Minibus with a capacity of 16 passengers. Where the “ordinary car driving licence” is obtained after December 1996, they will have to take a separate test to drive a vehicle with a capacity of more than 8 passengers. However, there is an dispensation for certain volunteer drivers, where the vehicle does not exceed 3500kgs GVW (or 4250kgs GVW if the vehicle is designed to be wheelchair accessible).
If driving commercially a driver will require a PCV driving licence, a CPC and a Tachograph card
As stated above, this is intended as an overview of the key pieces of legislation involved with minibuses. If you think something needs to be added, or you have a specific question that needs answering please get in touch.