Keep home to school transport operating!

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If your children use any coach services to get to school, then please read...

The government have implemented a new regulation known as PSVAR. The regulation is to prevent discrimination against disabilities when it comes to using public transport. Therefore, any scheduled bus routes must have disabled access and space for one wheelchair. However, the DFT / Department for Transport have also decided that ALL home to school services must also have disabled access and space for a wheelchair. Even if it is a private school service, pre-paid and pre-booked only it must be compliant. Even if not one wheelchair user is in the whole school, the coach must be compliant.

This new regulation affecting home to school services is having a huge effect on coach and bus companies throughout the whole of the UK and will also affect parents and students.

There is a massive shortage of DDA / PSVAR compliant coaches in the country, therefore they are not readily available. A used vehicle can cost £60k+ and that's if you are lucky enough to find one.

A new DDA / PSVAR compliant coach can cost over £250k each.

We have eight home to school contracts ourselves, so for us to continue operating school services from July 2020 and change our entire fleet would cost us over £1.6 million! All other coach companies are in the same boat. We either invest heavily (and face bankruptcy) or hand school contracts back. If companies have to hand contracts back, drivers all over the country face redundancy.

Unfortunately school contracts don't pay enough to cover this level of finance.

Don't get us wrong, we support equal opportunities and we do infact have a wheelchair accessible coach ourselves, but when not one wheelchair user is in a school, it seems crazy that every single bus and coach going to the school has to be accessible. The result of this regulation is that from July 2020 a vast majority of students could be left with NO school transport! If the coaches arent available, they cannot be purchased, and if the only options are too expensive, then parents won't be willing to pay a significantly increased fare.

We completely understand why public service buses open to all public users (not just school pupils) require disabled access as anyone can board at any time. However, most exclusive home to school services are pre-booked and paid monthly or termly. Therefore, a situation where a wheelchair user would require to use the coach without sufficient notice is highly unlikely. Perhaps a more realistic option would be for every bus and coach operator to have a PSVAR compliant vehicle in a ratio for how many vehicles they operate, for example 1 in 4 coaches and buses must be accessible so should a wheelchair user require it, there is one or more available within the fleet.

I don't think many parents are aware of the severity of this situation as it's not been well publicised, so we felt it right to make you aware. The aim of this petition is to attempt to encourage the DFT to rethink their unrealistic regulation for home to school transport before it's too late.