Minibuses have been in the news today following reports from the Local Government Association that some taxi drivers are taking advantage of the differing regulatory systems that apply to vehicles with up to and over 8 passenger seats. Taxi drivers (driving vehicles carrying up to 8 passengers) must undergo an enhanced criminal records check with the Disclosure and Barring Service as part of the Local Authority licencing process, but no such requirement exists for drivers of vehicles carrying 9 or more passengers. Some contracts do specify that these drivers need to be DBS checked, but there is no overarching legal requirement for employers to perform the checks because drivers of such vehicles are treated as bus or coach drivers.
In contrast to larger buses or coaches however, minibuses are often sent in place of taxis where operational convenience dictates that this is the most efficient option. There is no fundamental problem with this, but it means that there is a risk of vulnerable passengers (such as schoolchildren) who are expecting a DBS checked driver being transported by a driver who has not had a criminal records check.
It is also worth recognising that for a minibus to be operating legally, the driver must have a category D or D1 driving licence, and they must complete regular training to ensure that they are driving in a safe and professional manner. In addition, their employer must hold a government-issued Operators Licence, and the vehicles must usually be operated under the supervision of a qualified Transport Manager.
There is a considerable quantity of legislation surrounding the transport of passengers for profit in vehicles of all sizes, and it is essential for the safety of the public that operators comply. If you are responsible for purchasing transport services and you are concerned about one or more of your suppliers, or you would simply like the peace of mind that a compliance audit gives you, our compliance and surveying services are likely to be of interest. Please do get in touch with myself directly, or one of our team, to discuss things further.