Accessibility regulations and Rail Replacement Buses

Doug Paulley made this Freedom of Information request to Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency as part of a batch sent to 3 authorities

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Dear Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency,

If it is likely to be more productive to deal with this enquiry under "Business as Usual", please do so; otherwise please note that this fulfills the requirements of a Freedom of Information Act.

I am trying to determine if the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations apply to rail replacement buses. That is: do buses (single and double decker), and coaches that were first used on or after 1st January 2005 (and all coaches come 2020), that are in use as rail replacement buses, have to comply with the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations?

Some people argue that rail replacement buses are not subject to the PSVAR as they are provided under contract to a TOC, or because their services aren't registered with the Traffic Commissioner. I am less certain. I note that the "Department for Transport - Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 - Guidance" states:

"The Regulations apply to any public service vehicle with a capacity exceeding 22 passengers used to provide a local or scheduled service" ... "In general the Regulations apply to all buses and coaches operating to a published timetable. Very small buses and coaches (with a capacity not exceeding 22 passengers) are excluded, as are vehicles used for holiday or touring services, day trips or private hire for example, to a theatre or theme park. "

It also says :
'"scheduled service" means 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;
The phrase "scheduled service" is to include bus and coach services that operate over longer distances and with few stops such as inter-city coach services.'

To my view, that appears to include rail replacement buses. Such buses are used along specified routes at specified times and with passengers being taken up and set down at pre-determined stopping points; being the stations that would have been served by the trains had the buses not been replacing them. It's not a tour service.

Bns Hollis said, at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld..., in relation to school buses, whether or not a vehicle is “operated for hire and reward“ is defined by “whether any passengers are carried as separate fares (which includes payment for the right to travel as part of a larger payment)“, and indeed “On a bus provided by the local authority or bus operator, provided that a fare is paid, even if only by some of the students when others are entitled to free transport, the vehicle would be a PSV.” It is not a Public Service Vehicle, and thus not subject to the accessibility regulations, “provided that the passengers made no contribution to the cost of travel and no contribution was made on their behalf“. Further "When contributions are made for travel, it is a PSV. Since private schools charge pupils fees for the whole of the education service that they provide, they would probably be regarded always as operating buses for hire or reward, because the transport service is part of the overall service by which the fees are charged."

I would argue that rail replacement buses do take people "at separate fares". Passengers have to have a rail ticket for the right to travel on that bus; and it is not relevant that a) the passengers pay a rail ticket vendor rather than the bus operator, or b) that the rail ticket may include other elements such as onward rail transport.

So it is my interpretation that the PSVAR do indeed apply to rail replacement vehicles. However when attempting to make use of such, I have discovered that there are a large number of non-PSVAR-compliant buses, and coaches first used after 1st January 2005, in use on rail replacement services which I therefore can't access in my wheelchair. A current example is the rail replacement bus service currently in use on the Lakes line; an example timetable is at https://be803fe5c416e39d38ae-aa21086260d... .

Further, some in the rail industry disagree that rail replacement buses are subject to the PSVAR.

So what I would like to know is: are rail replacement buses and coaches subject to the PSVAR or are they exempt in some manner?

If you can answer that under "Business as Usual" that would be great. If, however, you can't then please consider this as a Freedom of Information request for recorded information that indicates whether or not rail replacement buses are subject to the Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

foi@dvsa.gov.uk, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency

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