|As announced on our webinar today, the CPT (the trade body representing the operators of buses and coaches in the UK – see here for more details on membership) has just published information it has received from the Department for Transport about the new exemption for closed door home to school services.
Operators should not expect an indefinite exemption from the Regulations. The plan is for the industry to work with the Department for Transport to develop a workable, sustainable approach, which is fair to operators, but which also shows clearly to disabled people that the industry is committed to enabling them to travel like anybody else.
Eligibility for Special Authorisations
The Department for Transport is offering a “Special Authorisation” under s178 of the Equality Act 2010 to exempt vehicles operated by specific operators from Schedules 1 to 3 of the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR) for a period of one year from 1 August 2020 until 31 July 2021.
The Special Authorisations (exemptions) will be valid only when the vehicles are operating a service to or from one or more educational establishments, transporting one or more of the following:
Exemptions will be available to operators of relevant services in England, Scotland and Wales and will be issued when a valid application has been received by the Department.
The eligibility criteria is wider than the original exemptions that expire on 31 July 2020.
There is now no necessity for the service to have been procured by a LTA or by an educational establishment. All home to school services, however procured will be eligible for an exemption.
In addition, services that were not eligible for the November 2019 exemption for local authorities due a fare being paid for more than 20% of the seats would also be covered by this new exemption, but only until July next year.
Application and Issue of Certificates
Operators that previously applied for and received an exemption certificate that will expire on 31 July 2020 will be contacted by the Department and asked if they wish to apply for the new exemption. In these cases operators will not be required to complete a further application and new certificates will be issued using the information previously supplied.
If an operator has not been contacted by 7 August 2020, they should contact the Department using HomeToSchoolExemptions@dft.gov.uk with the subject line “HTS3 Application Form Request”.
Operators which have not previously applied for an exemption for home to school services should send an email to HomeToSchoolExemptions@dft.gov.uk with “Exemption 3 Application Form Request” in the subject line. Full details of the application process will then be provided.
General enquiries regarding the new exemptions should be sent to HomeToSchoolExemptions@dft.gov.uk with “Exemption 3 Enquiry” and an indication of the question in the subject line.
Operators that have applied for the new exemption and also meet any eligibility criteria, will be issued with an exemption certificate.
A copy of the certificate should be carried on board the vehicle when it is undertaking a HTS service covered by the exemption, and it must be made available to DVSA Vehicle Examiners or other relevant officers requesting it.
Please contact the regulatory team on 01254 828300 if you would like guidance.