Campaign launched to ‘save’ community transport

A campaign has been launched urging community transport operators to mount a legal challenge against new Section 19 guidance. Mobility Matters aims to raise awareness of the CT sector and, ultimately, reverse the insistence of government that S19 and Community Bus Permit (S22) operators cannot run publicly tendered services and, in many circumstances, require unrestricted D1 licences and DCPC qualification.

The DfT guidance, signed off by Stephen Fidler, Deputy Director Bus & Taxis, establishes that exemption from PSV ‘O’ licensing cannot be established simply by being a charity, or ‘not-for-profit’ organisation where transport is the main or sole activity; if any income comes from contestable tenders, an O Licence is required.

The letter added that O Licensing demands drivers with unrestricted D1 category – as opposed to ‘grandfather rights’ D1 entitlement – and that all drivers for publicly tendered contracts also require Driver CPC.

Launching the campaign, assisted by consultancy the TAS Partnership, Mobility Matters says: “Underlying the DfT’s letter is an unforeseen reinterpretation of the term ‘non-commercial’ that flies in the face of all other guidance previously issued by them and current accepted practice. It overturns the approach of 40 years of legislation.”

The campaign aims not only to flag up the importance of mobility for CT’s customers, but mount a legal challenge to the DfT’s guidance and to assist CTOs with guidance of its own.

“It is important that people understand that the DfT letter is the result of an ongoing licensing hearing,” said TAS Director John Taylor. “Not only has this hearing yet to reach a final conclusion – it could potentially be appealed – it is not a decision by a court, nor does it constitute case law. Changes in interpretation as drastic as are being proposed could impact hundreds of thousands of people and need to be tested in court before even thinking about implementation.”

John urges the DfT “to withdraw their letter” until a “sympathetic” review of the permit system is complete.

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