PSVAR: Government must provide clarity for coach operators, and quickly
Government must provide clarity on the way in which PSVAR exemptions for coaches will apply from April 2022, if the coach sector is to plan for them effectively.
Andy Warrender, our operations manager for the coach sector, told Route One that little progress has been made in the two months since Under-Secretary of State for Transport Baroness Vere outlined the likely steps that the Department for Transport will take to increase compliance on coaches.
The sector still does not have a firm path ahead in the wake of Baroness Vere’s letter.
Following its publication we highlighted that, if modifications to vehicles that are used on the services concerned are required to be carried out by 1 April 2022, the time during which that work can be done is quickly ticking away.
“We need some certainty, and we need it quickly,” Andy said. “It is disappointing that in the two months since Baroness Vere’s letter we don’t seem to have made a lot of progress.
“If an operator needs to modify vehicles [by April 2022] that does not leave a lot of time, particularly as until then they will all be in service. There is no major break when those coaches will be off the road, apart from Christmas.”
Andy also told Route One that uncertainty over whether medium-term exemptions will mandate the need for destination displays adds further complication.
We believe that PSVAR must focus on journeys rather than vehicles. This has been a core part of our RHA Coach Policy, and something we’ve made clear to the Department for Transport.
Where it’s known that accessibility isn’t required, operators shouldn’t have to provide an accessible vehicle; we believe this is still achievable within the spirit of the Equality Act 2010.
It’s clear there’s an appetite to extend the scope of inclusivity for coach services. This would achieve that, and the requirement to take reasonable steps to offer 100 percent accessible journeys should take that into account.
We’d recommend it’s phased in over the five years after an upcoming Government PSVAR review.