Further PSVAR exemptions announced
A further PSVAR exemption for school-procured vehicles used for home-to-school transport has been announced.
Since 1 January, the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) now technically apply to any remaining coaches subject to them, which were manufactured before 2005.
This latest exemption is in addition to the one announced on 21 November 2019 that offered exemptions from PSVAR for vehicles providing home to school transport on which up to 20% of seats are made available to fare paying passengers. The DfT now understands that this has not helped schools and colleges which procure their own home to school transport, on which most children may pay a fare to cover the costs of providing it, and that without some form of exemption such services may not operate from this month onwards, or may be provided only at a significantly higher cost to passengers. The temporary exemption will run until 31 July 2020 (irrespective of the date on which it is awarded).
Ministers have decided to grant temporary exemptions from the Regulations to the operators of affected services. This is intended to provide schools and colleges with time to procure accessible services from the beginning of the 2020/21 academic year. A temporary ‘school procured’ exemption is being offered for vehicles providing home-to-school transport services, irrespective of the number of passengers who pay a fare.
To be eligible, services must be:
- Procured directly by the respective school or college; or
- Procured by a Local Authority on behalf of a school or college, where the local authority would not otherwise have a duty to provide transport.
This exemption is not available for services procured by a local authority where responsibility for arranging transport does not rest with the school or college concerned. Where a local authority procures a service to fulfil a statutory duty, and where no more than 20% of seats are made available to fare paying passengers, authorities may apply instead for the exemption offered on 21 November.
Exemptions will be provided only where assurance is received that, in the event a disabled person eligible to travel on a given home-to-school service, is unable to do so in an exempted vehicle, alternative PSVAR-compliant transport will be provided.
Applications for exemptions under the ‘school procured’ scheme must be submitted by the operators who provide the respective home-to-school transport services. The applications must reach the DfT at [email protected] no later than 31 January 2020.