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Minibus Licensing and Driving

11th Dec 2017

The Department for Infrastructure has clarified the requirements for minibus drivers and operators under existing legislation and has written to service providers, saying the majority of community and voluntary organisations will be unaffected.

A spokesperson for the Department said: "This is a complex area and while the legislation has not changed, the requirements the existing legislation places on drivers and operators has not always been clear.
"The revised guidance confirms that anyone who is paid to drive must have a full D or D1 category licence and any transport operator who charges customers for services must hold a bus operator licence.
"Volunteer minibus drivers will continue to be able to drive for voluntary organisations as they do now and the majority of voluntary groups will be able to continue operating under their section 10B permits.
"However, those organisations which are affected need to take action to become compliant as quickly as possible and we will work with those committed to transitioning to enable them to do so."
The Department expects the majority of organisations in the community and voluntary sector will be unaffected with little impact on people using the services.

Continuing, the spokesperson said: "The revised guidance will mean changes to how some services are licensed and regulated, particularly in the community transport sector. The Department has established a working group with the Community Transport Association, Rural Community Transport Partnerships and Disability Action with the objective of ensuring these services are maintained.
"As the main funder of community transport, the Department recognises the vital services provided by the Community Transport Partnerships and Disability Action to vulnerable and isolated people through the Dial a Lift and Disability Action Transport Schemes. We remain committed to these services."


Following today's clarification, the Department's ongoing consultation on minibus driver licence guidance and Section 10B permits has been extended until Friday 8 December.

Further information on this is available in the attached letter - of which we have printed some extracts as follows:

Bus Operations
The Transport Act (NI) 1967 requires anyone who provides bus passenger transport for hire or reward to hold a bus operator licence. However, a section 10B permit provides exemption from the requirement to hold an operator licence, where the service is provided for education, religion, social welfare or any activity which benefits the community on a non-profit basis.

Licensing

In accordance with the 1996 Regulations, a driver who holds a sub-category D1(nfhr)1 licence, or Category B licence issued from 1 January 1997, may drive a minibus where the following circumstances are met: they do so on a voluntary basis; for a non-commercial organisation; for social purposes; The holder of a category B driving licence is further restricted as follows: they must be over 21 years and have held a category B licence for more than 2 years; the minibus maximum [weight] [mass] is not more than 3.5 tonnes (4.25 tonnes if including any specialist equipment to carry disabled passengers); they do not tow a trailer.

Where a minibus driver is driving other than on a voluntary basis it is unlikely that they will be able to avail of the exemptions contained in the 1996 Regulations even if they are driving for a non-commercial organisation. Similarly anyone driving for a commercial organisation cannot avail of the exemptions.

Notes:

  1. EC Regulations 1071/2009 sets the licensing and exemption requirements for bus operators in Europe.
  2. The letter to service providers and Frequently Asked Questions can be viewed at www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/publications/letter-regarding-issue-and-use-section-10b-permits-road-passenger-transport-and-minibus-driving

Also See: PDF Section 10B Minibus Driving Letter - Final.pdf

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