Are you getting into a licensed minibus?
How you ever given any thought as to whether the minibus you’re getting into is licensed? Would you insured if god forbid there were to be an accident and the driver of the bus was at fault? Maybe some care and consideration should be given before stepping into an unlicensed minibus or coach—as you may just be getting into one!
But how do you know if a coach/minibus is licensed?
Without being completely brazen and asking; there are a few subtle ways you can tell. Licensed coach/minibus operators must display their license in the window of the vehicle. This license looks very similar to the old tax disc and how that used to be displayed.
And what does this license look like?
There are three different types of license a coach/minibus operator can have: Restricted, standard national and standard international.
Restricted: The restricted license is an orange coloured disc. This license allows the operator to run a maximum of two minibuses at a total of 16 seats for each one in the UK. No coaches are permitted on this license.
Standard national: An operator with a standard national license can run minibuses and/or coaches in the UK. A blue disc will be displayed in the window to indicate this. The number of buses they can have on the road is granted by the traffic commissioner and is ultimately subject to certain criteria: The size of their operating centre, financial standing, a competent transport manager, etc.
Standard international: This license is the same as the standard national and requires similar criteria—however, it is permitted for international use as well. The standard international can be verified by a green disc in the window of the bus.
Is there anything else is immediately noticeable?
The operator must display their business address somewhere on passenger side door. This piece of text tends to be more subtle; but it is certainly visible and it is also a legal requirement. A competent and licensed coach/minibus operator WILL have their address displayed on their vehicles.
What other requirements are there for a licensed operator?
The list is quite extensive for the number of requirements that is mandatory for keeping buses legal on the road, so let’s highlight the key factors aside from the above!
Drivers’ Hours and CPC:
By law, drivers of minibuses and coaches must follow the drivers’ hours regulations which you can find HERE. These hours are recorded onto the tachograph fitted inside the bus. Each driver has their own unique drivers’ card which is similar to a driving license; but it has a chip in it which stores all the data from the tachograph. The information on the driving hours is kept by the operator and the transport manager.
Professional drivers must also undertake 35 hours of period CPC (certificate of professional competence) training every 5 years. On completion of the 35 hours of training, drivers will receive their CPC qualification card. This card is a legal requirement for any professional driver who wishes to drives for hire and reward.
Minibus and coach operators must have their vehicles regularly inspected at regular intervals by a competent person/garage. These intervals should be either: 6 weekly, 8 weekly, 10 weekly or 12 weekly. The age of the bus, condition and mileage it covers will be determining factor for how often it should be inspected. Usually if a bus is over 10 years old, it should be going in every 6 weeks at least.
Daily walk around checks:
Before a vehicle is driven away for the working day, it must be checked over by the driver to ensure it’s in a safe and roadworthy condition. This is called: The daily walk around check. The driver will inspect the vehicle and check to make sure things such as: tyres, lights, windows, seat beats, etc, are all in working order. A defect book should always be kept inside the bus which the driver must fill out and sign if he/she has found any defects. Any such defects are to be reported to the operator and rectified at once.
Are there any exceptions?
There is an exception that makes you exempt from all the hassle of obtaining an operators license. This is the section 19 permit: This is used voluntary organisations that don’t make a profit from the public, such as: Churches, charities, sporting or educational groups. The driver is still required to have relevant license to drive the bus, but tachographs, safety inspections, and all the rest of it doesn’t matter.
Seemingly, the number of criteria that is required to legally have a licensed minibus/coach operation can look daunting. Maybe this is the reason a lot of people choose to get a minibus and ignore the requirements. There a substantial amount of time and effort that goes into it; but most importantly: It is to keep you safe! I have attached various links throughout this article with plenty of information on each section.