Issue details

Passenger Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR) - implications for school and college transport 2020

 

To confirm how the implementation of the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR) will be managed and its long term implications for home to school and college transport in the County.

The council provides statutory free transport services for entitled mainstream school pupils in accordance with the school transport policy. A vacant seats scheme is also offered that enables pupils who are not entitled to free transport to pay to travel on the coach. This is a discretionary service and parents/guardians are notified that seats can be withdrawn with a minimum of one week's notice. Additionally discretionary services are provided to college students, and students attending faith schools in return for payment of an annual fare charge. All students travelling using a paid scheme pay the same annual charge.

Since 1 January 2020 school and college students paying a fare have had to be transported on buses and coaches  compliant with the PSVAR, a compliant vehicle being one which is fully wheelchair accessible. Services carrying only entitled students traveling for free are exempt. Although it is the individual operators' responsibility to ensure compliance with the PSVAR, as the commissioner, the council has a duty to ensure that the services it commissions are operated legally and in accordance with all applicable regulations.

Extensive work was undertaken to ensure compliance with legislation by 1st January 2020 however it was not possible to make all services compliant or seek appropriate exemptions by this date and there remained 252 passengers traveling on 7 different services who would have been traveling on non-compliant services on the 1st January 2020. Of the remaining in scope services 23 have been confirmed as being compliant and a further 8 have been granted a 2 year exemption certificate from 1st January 2020. As an interim measure a decision was taken in December 2019 to provide free transport to these students for the Spring academic term, January to April 2020. This follow up report sets out options for managing services for the Summer academic term 2020 and longer term.

Details of the previous decision taken can be viewed here. It is proposed that free travel be extended to include the summer term 2020 such that where it has not been possible to move to compliant services or seek an exemption, students' education will not be disrupted in the final term of the academic year. This comprises up to 252 students travelling on 7 services. However, further retendering of non-compliant services during the spring term is likely to significantly reduce these numbers and the financial implications resulting from lost fares.

It is proposed that the vacant seats scheme and other discretionary transport where a fare is charged is withdrawn from September 2020 where services remain non-compliant. Advance notice will be provided before the end of the current academic year such that parents, schools and colleges will have sufficient time to make alternative arrangements for access school. 

Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Expenditure and strategic nature / impact on communities;

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Wards affected: (All Wards);

Notice of proposed decision first published: 19/12/2019

Decision due: 19 February 2020 by Cabinet member Infrastructure and transport

Lead member: Cabinet member Infrastructure and transport

Lead director: Director of Economy and Place

Department: Economy and Place

Contact: Adam Houchen, Process & Procurement Manager Email: adam.houchen@herefordshire.gov.uk.

Details of any declarations of interest: None

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