Sep 052018
 

I’m finalising my submission to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into the effects of this year’s rail timetable disruption on passengers. I am publishing here my explanation as to why I think that it is a (little-honoured) legal requirement that most rail replacement bus services must be operated using accessible vehicles.


  • It is a criminal offence to use most non-accessible vehicles on rail replacement services. The majority of bus and coach vehicles are subject to accessibility regulations that require them to be accessible when used on rail replacement services.
  • The Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR) specify which buses and coaches must be accessible, and what features said vehicles must have.
  • PSVAR 3(1) and (9(b)) states that the Regulations apply to Public Service Vehicles of types specified in (2) to (7) being used to provide either a local service or a scheduled service.

Scheduled Service

  • A “Scheduled service” is defined in PSVAR 2 as:

a service, using one or more public service vehicles, for the carriage of passengers at separate fares—

(a) along specified routes,

(b) at specified times, and

(c) with passengers being taken up and set down at pre-determined stopping points,

but does not include a tour service

At Separate Fares
  • “At separate fares” is defined in Sections 5(b)&(c) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981:

a payment made for the carrying of a passenger shall be treated as a fare notwithstanding that it is made in consideration of other matters in addition to the journey and irrespective of the person by or to whom it is made;

a payment shall be treated as made for the carrying of a passenger if made in consideration of a person’s being given a right to be carried, whether for one or more journeys and whether or not the right is exercised.

  • To give an example: I paid a fare at Northern’s Leeds ticket office during the closure of the Windermere line. Said fare included the right to travel on one return journey on the rail replacement bus between Oxenholme and Windermere. The fact that the fare included other elements (the right to travel on trains between Leeds and Oxenholme) or that the fare was not paid to the bus operator is irrelevant: the definition of “at separate fares” was met.
  • The route and times of the rail replacement bus was set out in advance and published by Northern on their webpage. The timetable stated that the bus on the outward trip was to start at Oxenholme at 1305, to drop passengers at Kendal at 1315, Burneside at 1325, Staveley at 1335, and Windermere at 1345. The bus on the return was to pick up passengers at Windermere at 1605 and at Kendal at 1625 before dropping them off at Oxenholme at 1640.
  • It was clearly a “scheduled service” for the purposes of the PSVAR. But even if it wasn’t, it is also a “local service”.

Local Service

  • PSVAR(2) states that “local service” has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Transport Act 1985.
  • S2 Transport Act 1985 states:

(1) In this Act “local service” means a service, using one or more public service vehicles, for the carriage of passengers by road at separate fares other than one—

(a) which is excluded by subsection (4) below; or

(b) in relation to which (except in an emergency) one or both of the conditions mentioned in subsection (2) below are met with respect to every passenger using the service.

(2) The conditions are that—

(a) the place where he is set down is fifteen miles or more, measured in a straight line, from the place where he was taken up;

(b) some point on the route between those places is fifteen miles or more, measured in a straight line, from either of those places.

(3) Where a service consists of one or more parts with respect to which one or both of the conditions are met, and one or more parts with respect to which neither of them is met, each of those parts shall be treated as a separate service for the purposes of subsection (1) above.

(4) A service shall not be regarded for the purposes of this Act as a local service if—

(a) the conditions set out in Part III of Schedule 1 to the 1981 Act (trips organised privately by persons acting independently of vehicle operators, etc.) are met in respect of each journey made by the vehicles used in providing the service; or

(b) every vehicle used in providing the service is so used under a permit granted under section 19 of this Act.

(5) Subsections (5)(b), (c) and (6) of section 1 of the 1981 Act (meaning of “fares”) shall apply for the purposes of this section.

  • The rail replacement bus stops on the Windermere line are each less than 15 miles from each other and there’s no point on the route that’s 15 miles from any other point, so the conditions in subsection (2) are satisfied.
  • Rail replacement buses are not operated under a S19 permit (which provides exemption from organisations whose buses are run only as a non-profit side-provision rather than as their main business) so the exemption in 4(b) is not engaged.
  • Subsection (5) gives the same definition of “at separate fares” as I discussed in relation to Scheduled Services; so, it is clear the service was “at separate fares”.
  • The exemption in subsection (4)(a) refers to Schedule 1 Part 3 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981:

5 Arrangements for the bringing together of all the passengers for the purpose of making the journey must have been made otherwise than by, or by a person acting on behalf of—

(a) the holder of the PSV operator’s licence under which the vehicle is to be used, if such a licence is in force.

(b) the driver or the owner of the vehicle or any person who has made the vehicle available under any arrangement, if no such licence is in force,

and otherwise than by any person who receives any remuneration in respect of the arrangements.

6 The journey must be made without previous advertisement to the public of the arrangements therefor.

7 All passengers must, in the case of a journey to a particular destination, be carried to, or to the vicinity of, that destination, or, in the case of a tour, be carried for the greater part of the journey.

8 No differentiation of fares for the journey on the basis of distance or of time must be made.

  • For this exemption to apply, the service must satisfy all four sections 5-8.
  • Whilst rail replacement buses comply with section 5, the rail replacement buses I attempted to catch did not satisfy sections 6, 7 or 8.

Section 6: The times and stopping points of the bus were previously advertised to the public, by various means – the attached timetable published on Northern’s website, in National Rail Enquiries journey planner, by Twitter, etc.

Section 7: Passengers were dropped off and picked up at various points not in the vicinity of Windermere, but along the route.

8: Journeys including an element from (say) Oxemholme to Windermere were priced less than journeys that only included the element from Oxenholme to Kendal.

  • The requirements in Sch 1 Part 3 of the 1981 Act are not engaged. Therefore, the service is a Local Service under S2 of the Transport Act 1985, and similarly for the purposes of PSVAR.

Regulated public service vehicles

  • As the rail replacement buses were scheduled or local services, then in the circumstances set out in PSVAR 3 (2)-(7), the vehicles in use on those services must have PSVAR certificates. Said vehicles are termed “regulated public service vehicles” (which in this context does NOT mean that they have to be registered with the Traffic Commissioner.) The definition of “bus” and “coach” is as specified in PSVAR 1:

“bus” means a public service vehicle designed and constructed for the carriage of both seated and standing passengers which is of category M2 or M3 (as defined in Annex II(A) to the 1970 Directive) and has a capacity exceeding 22 passengers, in addition to the driver;

“coach” means a public service vehicle designed and constructed for the carriage of seated passengers only which is of category M2 or M3 (as defined in Annex II(A) to the 1970 Directive) and has a capacity exceeding 22 passengers, in addition to the driver;

  • “The 1970 Directive” means Council Directive 70/156/EEC of 6 February 1970 which defines Category M2 and M3 as “vehicles used for the carriage of passengers, comprising more than eight seats in addition to the driver’s seat, and having a maximum weight not exceeding (M2) / exceeding (M3) 5 metric tons.” (Which doesn’t add anything to the definition.)
  • The effect of subsections 2, 4 and 5 of PSVAR 2 is that as of 2018 all buses with more than 22 seats in use on local or scheduled services must have accessibility certificates showing compliance with PSVAR Schedule 1.
  • The effect of subsection 7 of PSVAR 2 is that as of 2018 all coaches with more than 22 seats must have an accessibility certificate showing compliance with Schedule 1 of PSVAR unless they were first used before 1st January 2005 or manufactured before 1st October 2004.
  • PSVAR 4 exempts public service vehicles that are off-road, used under a S19 permit (as not-for-profit incidental provision by bodies whose main business isn’t public transportation, which is not the case here), used for secure transport of prisoners etc., specifically designed to carry injured or sick people, used by / for a Minister or government department or in the service of a visiting force, or:

a vehicle in respect of which twenty years have elapsed since the date of its first use on a road and which is not used to provide a local service or a scheduled service for more than 20 days in any calendar year.

Schedule 1 PSVAR

  • Schedule 1 requires regulated public service vehicles to each have at least one wheelchair space, and a wheelchair accessible boarding lift or ramp. In other words, any vehicle with a certificate indicating compliance with this Schedule must be wheelchair accessible.

Summary of effect of PSVAR on Rail Replacement Buses

  • As of 2008, ALL buses and coaches with 22 or more seats in use on Rail Replacement services must be wheelchair accessible EXCEPT:
    • A) Rail replacement services which DO NOT have a published schedule, and EITHER:
      1. don’t have information pre-published about the service and only transport between two stations OR
      2. have more than 15 miles between every stop on their route and are thus not local or scheduled services.
    • B) Buses or coaches that have been in use on a road for over 20 years and aren’t currently used on local or scheduled services for more than 20 days a year; and
    • C) Coaches first used before 1st January 2005 or first constructed before 1st October 2004.

S175 Equality Act 2010

175 Offence of contravening PSV accessibility regulations

(1) A person commits an offence by—

(a) contravening a provision of PSV accessibility regulations;

(b) using on a road a regulated public service vehicle which does not conform with a provision of the regulations with which it is required to conform;

(c) causing or permitting such a regulated public service vehicle to be used on a road.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

(3) If an offence under this section committed by a body corporate is committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to neglect on the part of, a responsible person, the responsible person as well as the body corporate is guilty of the offence.

  • It is therefore a criminal offence to operate buses and coaches with 22 or more seats but no wheelchair spaces on rail replacement services, unless the conditions A, B or C in Paragraph 60 apply. Both the body or bodies corporate, and the individual manager(s) within said body or bodies, are liable on summary conviction to a maximum £2,500 fine for each and every breach.

  2 Responses to “Accessibility of Rail Replacement Bus Services”

  1. As someone who’s worked in and with the bus and rail industry I need to correct you on this with “Scheduled Service” and other specifics that apply to a local bus service and not to a rail replacement.

    Rail replacement services are categorically not a “Scheduled service” nor a “local service” as legally seen within the transport industry. A “scheduled service” / “Local service” is one that is and note this – a service registered wholly with the local traffic commissioner and has a fare chart – ie local bus service picking up/setting down at local bus stops and operating to a published fare chart.

    Rail replacement operate as a ‘contracted service’ even though there is a schedule of sorts – this is not ‘registered’; there is no fare payed to the driver as this has already undertaken via the Contract even though a user may have a ticket in their hand for a station no fares are actually payable to the driver.

    If any rail replacement had to be registered in the same way as local bus services – then actually no replacement bus services would run given the process that is now needed now to register a bus /coach service.

    Also, unlike local bus services; there is no direct requirement for TOCs to directly advertise which services will be operated by an accessible vehicle as ultimately in the timeline for publicity requirements in rail this information is not available; given the unknown of the location of where the vehicles are been sourced from for the operation along the route coverage. Vehicle allocations are done as little as one week out and therefore this is no way a TOC can actively publish this information – and it certainly is something that will never appear in rail journey planners. This is why the rail industry always advises to book mandatory assistance prior to travelling.

    Therefore, in your summary, Section A 2 actually doesn’t apply at any point to rail replacement; only section 1 which is station to station that applies to all ‘published and non-published and at times of perturbation – and this latter applied to Northern services during the temporary timetable.

    I can confidently state that TOC always put the request in for accessible vehicles when planning services to their co-ordination company and it’s at that point TOC has passed the operational responsibility over to the coordinators and their suppliers. Take for example the recent works between Preston and Blackpool, these were operated under contract to Blackpool Transport whom had a fleet of new buses on order as part of a network upgrade and diverted them to the route closure.

    As long as the TOC meets the requirements of its DPPP document, they are covered as they try to make reasonable endeavours to make the request for accessible alternative transport provision. Any requirements in regard to PSVAR with rail replacement ultimately is in the hands of replacement coordinating company that a TOC uses and the operators it contracts, and the availability of suitable vehicles in the area of coverage.

    It must be noted that in the case of the Lakes Line service; Northern WERE trying to meet the demands of local requirements and the replacement timetable change at least 5 or 6 times during its operation as a result.

    In short, what applies day to day with local bus service regulations (PSVAR) doesn’t transpose to rail replacement – they are totally different scenarios.

    • Let’s correct some of the misapprehensions in this comment.

      A) Your definition of a “scheduled service” or a “local service” is incorrect. There is no need for a service to be registered with a Traffic Commissioner to be a “scheduled service” or a “local service”, nor does it have to have a fare chart, nor does it have to pick up or set down at local bus stops.

      Here are the definitions in their entirety.

      i) Scheduled service

      The entire definition of a Scheduled Service is given in Section 2 of the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2000/1970/regulation/2/made

      The definition is, in its entirety, :
      “a service, using one or more public service vehicles, for the carriage of passengers at separate fares—
      (a) along specified routes,
      (b) at specified times, and
      (c) with passengers being taken up and set down at pre-determined stopping points,
      but does not include a tour service.”

      No reference whatsoever to having to be registered with a Traffic Commissioner, or to have a fare chart, or to having to pick up and set down at local bus stops; and no reference whatsoever to other legislation: it is entire in and of itself.

      ii) Local service

      The definition of a Local Service from the same section of PSVAR:
      “”local service” has the same meaning as in section 2 of the Transport Act 1985”

      Section 2 of the Transport Act 1985 reads, in its entirety, http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1985/67/section/2

      “Local services.

      “(1) In this Act “local service” means a service, using one or more public service vehicles, for the carriage of passengers by road at separate fares other than one—
      (a) which is excluded by subsection (4) below; or
      (b) in relation to which (except in an emergency) one or both of the conditions mentioned in subsection (2) below are met with respect to every passenger using the service.

      (2)The conditions are that—
      (a) the place where he is set down is fifteen miles or more, measured in a straight line, from the place where he was taken up;
      (b) some point on the route between those places is fifteen miles or more, measured in a straight line, from either of those places.

      (3) Where a service consists of one or more parts with respect to which one or both of the conditions are met, and one or more parts with respect to which neither of them is met, each of those parts shall be treated as a separate service for the purposes of subsection (1) above.

      (4) A service shall not be regarded for the purposes of this Act as a local service if—
      (a) the conditions set out in Part III of Schedule 1 to the 1981 Act (trips organised privately by persons acting independently of vehicle operators, etc.) are met in respect of each journey made by the vehicles used in providing the service; or
      (b) every vehicle used in providing the service is so used under a permit granted under section 19 of this Act.

      (5) Subsections (5)(b), (c) and (6) of section 1 of the 1981 Act (meaning of “fares”) shall apply for the purposes of this section.”

      Please point out the requirement in the above legislation that the service be registered with the traffic commissioner? That it have a fare chart? That it pick up and set down at bus stops? Quite simply, these requirements ared not there. Registration of local services is in Section 6 of the Transport Act 1985. (The PSVAR make no reference whatsoever to Section 6. They only refer to Section 2.) There is no reference to the supposed requirement for a service to be registered with the Traffic Commissioners in order for it to be considered a Local Service for the sake of PSVAR.

      B) The fact that the service has been contracted by a TOC or other body, and that no fare is paid direct to the driver, is irrelevant.

      See again, Section 2(5) of the Transport Act 1985.

      “(5) Subsections (5)(b), (c) and (6) of section 1 of the 1981 Act (meaning of “fares”) shall apply for the purposes of this section.”

      Subsections 5(b), (c) and (6) of Section 1 of the Public Passenger Vehicle Act 1981 read in their entirety: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/14/section/1

      “(b) a payment made for the carrying of a passenger shall be treated as a fare notwithstanding that it is made in consideration of other matters in addition to the journey and irrespective of the person by or to whom it is made;

      (c) a payment shall be treated as made for the carrying of a passenger if made in consideration of a person’s being given a right to be carried, whether for one or more journeys and whether or not the right is exercised.

      (6) Where a fare is paid for the carriage of a passenger on a journey by air, no part of that fare shall be treated for the purposes of subsection (5) above as paid in consideration of the carriage of the passenger by road by reason of the fact that, in case of mechanical failure, bad weather or other circumstances outside the operator’s control, part of that journey may be made by road.”

      So a fare is considered paid notwithstanding that it includes payment for other things in addition to the bus element (e.g. rail travel), no matter to whom it’s paid (i.e. NOT just payment to the driver) nor whom paid it.

      If the only services subject to PSVAR were ones where a fare had been paid to a driver, then many daytime buses used only by OAPs wouldn’t be subject to it, and neither would school buses. School buses are subject to PSVAR as long as at least one person transported isn’t entitled to free school bus transport. If parents pay the local authority a termly fee for a space on the bus, or even if the kid’s private school fees include “free” transport, PSVAR applies. As the Government said: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200405/ldhansrd/vo050228/text/50228-15.htm

      The fact that you believe strongly otherwise is irrelevant. You are simply incorrect. You – and much of the rail, bus and coach industry, regulators and legislators – are operating under the widely held missaprehension that PSVAR only apply to services registered with the Traffic Commissioner. Quite simply, this is not the case; and if you actually read the legislation instead of going off your long-held beliefs, you will see that your understanding of the legislation does not accord with the reality.

      I am well aware of the trope of the querulous argumentative sod; people who swear black is white that their version of events is the only accurate one, in the face of universal or near-universal opinion to the contrary. I am aware that the above argument makes me look like that, and have questioned myself as to whether I am behaving in this manner. I am confident that I am not: behaviour such as described also describes somebody who is pointing out clearly-evidenced and accurate facts in the face of widely-held incorrect beliefs to the contrary.

      I have previously proven that the Emperor has no trousers in related contexts. For example, National Express, Megabus and Scottish Citylink had a policy of requiring wheelchair users to book in advance so the coach wheelchair space could be prepared for them. This prevented wheelchair users from buying a ticket just before the journey and traveling like non-disabled people. The industry claimed that there was no legal obligation to the contrary, and that it was not practical or possible to enable “turn up and go” wheelchair coach travel because of the difficulties in removing seats from the wheelchair spaces. So I pressed the issue. https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/trio-of-coach-companies-agree-wheelchair-rule-changes-after-legal-warnings/ Now “DVSA is investigating a number of cases where it appears coach staff and operators are unclear on the law and is working with the industry to put this right.”

      Back to rail replacement buses and PSVAR: read the legislation yourself, properly, and in detail, and point out the flaw in my argument if you like; but just because you strongly believe your version is correct, that you have been told by other people that your version is correct, or that in your work you have always acted according to your belief, or that multiple other people and organisations in the public transport industry are of the same opinion, are not valid arguments or evidence disproving my interpretation.

      As an information designer with a transit speciality, I would hope you would check that information is factually accurate before “correcting” others and publishing it. You haven’t done so.

      Given that this argument has been done to death on the rail forums, that it turned unpleasantly personal and that you are clearly so incorrect in your unevidenced assertions, I am now turning off comments on this article.

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