Staying Legal and adopting good practice
Some aspects of operating a service legally are straightforward; for example, ensuring that a volunteer driver has a current driving licence. However there may be some legal constraints to operating a service that you may not be aware of. This factsheet covers some aspects of the law as well as good practice recommended when operating a transport service.
Permits for Minibuses and small vehicles
Where an organisation owns a vehicle and passengers contribute to the cost of their journey then you will need to operate under a Permit to remain within the law. There are two types of permit for minibuses. To find out which permit is most suitable for you to operate your scheme under read Community Transport Factsheet 10: Permits for Minibus Operation: Comparison (below). For more detailed information about Section 19 Standard Permits, read Community Transport Factsheet 4: Section 19 Standard Permits for Minibus Operation (below). If your organisation is looking to buy or hire a vehicle smaller than a minibus, for more information refer to Community Transport Factsheet 11: Permits for small vehicles (below).
For car schemes, ensure that the driver’s licence is current. If they will be driving your scheme’s vehicle you also need to check their age and endorsements etc – and check they meet your insurer’s requirements. For minibuses, it is no longer the case that everyone who has a licence to drive a car is automatically licensed to drive a minibus. For further information read Community Transport Factsheet 1: Driver Licensing for Minibuses (below).
Anyone travelling in a car must wear their seat belt, unless they have a medical exemption certificate. For children under 14 it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that the children wear their seat belts. For further information read the Community Transport Factsheet 5: ’Who should wear seat belts in a minibus?" (below).
Transporting children safely
The law now requires younger children to use the correct child restraint when travelling in cars and minibuses, although the requirements vary depending on the vehicle type. For information about transporting children by car, safely and within the law, visit RoSPA, the road safety website. For minibuses read the Community Transport Factsheet 7: Transporting Children Safely by Minibus (below).
Your service is likely to hold lists of people’s names and addresses; these could be drivers or passengers. This means that you must comply with the Data Protection Act. At the most basic level this means:
- You need to have a ‘Data Protection Statement’ on any form that volunteers or passengers complete their details – so that they consent to their data being held.
- You must keep the data secure.
- You must not pass on their data to anyone else (such as another organisation) without their consent.
Insurance for your organisation
An organisation needs public liability insurance so that the organisers do not become personally liable if there is a claim against the organisation. It covers situations such as an injury when a passenger is being helped from their front door to the vehicle (motor insurance would not cover this type of claim). Contact your Council of Voluntary Service for advice on where to buy a suitable policy.
Driver Training: the Minibus Drivers Awareness Scheme
MiDAS helps improve minibus safety by improving driving standards. It is strongly recommended that you provide training such as MiDAS to minibus drivers. For further information visit the MiDAS web page.
The Bus Service Operator’s Grant (BSOG)
BSOG allows operators of local bus services and community transport schemes to reclaim some of their fuel costs, if they provide the type of service eligible under the scheme.
This may be a useful way of reclaiming some of the service operating costs, if you own the minibus. However, be aware that changes to BSOG are expected, with a reduction of 20% from April 2012. For further details:
- Department for Transport
- Information on Bus Service Operator's Grant for Section 19 operators and Section 22 Community Buses can be found in the advice leaflets produced by the CTA
Recruiting and managing volunteers
If you are looking to recruit volunteers, get in touch with your local Volunteer Centre to advertise for and find local volunteers. For helpful guidance and support for managing volunteers visit Volunteering England or speak to other longstanding voluntary organisations in your local area. Further information on recruiting, training & retaining volunteers for rural Community Transport operators can be found in the volunteers leaflets produced by CTA.
Can be made for volunteers or paid staff to confirm whether an individual has any criminal convictions. Checks are relevant where people have unsupervised contact with children or vulnerable adults as part of their role. They are strongly recommended for voluntary car drivers who transport older people, some of whom may be vulnerable. For more information visit the Business Link website. Your local Council of Voluntary Service may be able to do DBS checks for you or, for voluntary car schemes that are part of the Good Neighbours network, the Good Neighbours Support Service will do your checks.
Older Drivers Skill Scheme
If you are using volunteer drivers to operate your scheme, a helpful resource is the Older Drivers Skill Scheme. The scheme offers a confidential and enjoyable appraisal of driving skills for older motorists. For more information visit the Hampshire Road Safety website.
Advice for community organisations
If you are setting up a new organisation, speak to your local Council of Voluntary Service. They should be able to give you advice on:
- Not for profit organisations versus social enterprises
- Volunteer recruitment / management
- DBS checks
Documents and Web Links
Hampshire County Council produces a series of factsheets on using minibuses and smaller vehicles. Relevant factsheets are available to download below.
Community Transport Factsheet 1 326kb: Driver Licensing for Minibuses
Community Transport Factsheet 4 119kb: Section 19 Standard Permits for Minibus Operation
Community Transport Factsheet 5 269kb: Who should wear seat belts in a minibus?
Community Transport Factsheet 7 337kb: Transporting Children Safely by Minibus
Community Transport Factsheet 10 176kb: Permits for Minibus Operation: Comparison.
Community Transport Factsheet 11 208kb: Permits for smaller vehicles
Bus Service Operator’s Grant details are on the Governments Department for Transport website.
For more information on the Disclosure and Barring Service Checks visit the Business Link website
CTA, the national Community Transport Association, produces a series of Advice Leaflets. These are free but you need to register your details on the website before you can access them.
Hampshire’s Councils of Voluntary Service (CVSs) support and advise voluntary and community groups in their District/Borough.
The Good Neighbours Support Service is an ‘umbrella body’ that supports and advises many of Hampshire’s voluntary car schemes.
Information Commissioner’s Office can advise you on your responsibilities and obligations regarding data protection.
The MiDAS website provides further information on Hampshire’s minibus drivers training scheme.
RoSPA can provide you with further information about transporting children safely.
Volunteer Centres in Hampshire can help you recruit and support volunteers.
Volunteering England offers help and support to those who work with volunteers.