Short Distance Exemption a potential trap, says TAS

“Don’t go there” – TAS warns CTOs against pursuing the O licence exemption

Director of transport consultants TAS Partnership, John Taylor, has urged community transport operators (CTOs) against pursuing the Short Distance Exemption from ‘O’ licensing (introduced from 1 October 2019). Speaking at the CTA UK’s CT’19 event in Manchester earlier this month, John said: “The simple message is: don’t go there!”

He warns that to do so before the forthcoming Judicial Review concludes would be to fall into a trap.

This advice comes in advance of the Judicial Review claim brought by the Bus and Coach Association (BCA) against the Secretary of State for Transport, taking place in the High Court as B&CB went to press. The claim seeks to mandate DVSA to escalate enforcement action to prosecution CT operators running services under contestable contracts, because such contract work should not be considered ‘non-commercial’. Regardless of the outcome, the DfT has promised a review of the Permit system next year, including the role of ‘designated bodies’ that can issue permits.

The Short Distance Exemption would override the current arguments about whether section 19 and 22 permits are being used for non-commercial purposes, but would only cover:

  • services operating within a radius of ten miles from pre-determined central points; and/or
  • services where the first point at which passengers can get on is no more than ten miles measured in a straight line from the last point at which they can get off.

The regulations would allow some occasional services to go beyond that limit, and operators can apply to extend the ten-mile threshold in extenuating circumstances, primarily in rural areas.

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