Minibus Tips For Winter

At Quotax, we comprehend how useful minibuses can be – particularly in the winter season with transport being critical for festive school/work/community trips – but also understand the dangers of wintertime driving. Efforts must be made to further ensure the safety of passengers when making a journey at this time of the year and so we have produced a quick guide to help.

Have greater braking distances

As the minibus is a larger vehicle, it is heavier and therefore builds up more momentum. The time it takes to brake is longer and the stopping distance is bigger. When roads are icy and wet, the distance increases even more – it is essential to maintain reasonable space at all times.

Travel at slower speeds

Leading on from the point above, going slower is altogether beneficial. With the cold weather risks, moving at a moderately unhurried velocity means moving with stability. To have best control of the vehicle, and avoid the slippery hazards, we think you should stick to the inside lane.

Take regular breaks en route

If you are using a minibus, it is likely that you are travelling relatively far. As the driver, you should free to take frequent breaks if you need to. The climate towards the end and at the start of the year causes a more difficult setting for transport and requires care, diligence and focus. To avoid distraction and develop concentration, ultimately safety, the driver should plan small rests along the trip.

Check tyre pressure

Under inflated tyres pose a threat to grip and control. With a large vehicle, a minibus, it is absolutely crucial to confirm that the tyres are well pressured. If you’re making multiple journeys through the winter period, we recommend that you keep a close eye on the tyres to make sure that the tread is adequate and the pressure is at a safe level.

Thoroughly de-ice

Frost and ice restrain visibility, covering windscreens and mirrors. Before you embark on your group trip, you need to spend time de-icing properly. Sight is more than important, especially given the braking distance needs and ability to focus, and so it is wise to stock up on anti-freeze or de-icer for your minibus over the wintertime.

Tips For The Electric Taxi Over The Festive Period

TX Electric Taxi

The TX from LEVC offers technological advantages for cabbies, especially through the winter, and acts as the perfect assistance for taxis in delivering quality service for passengers travelling during the cold seasons. Whether you are a TX driver or a cabbie considering purchasing one, at Quotax we think that an insight into some of its most beneficial features, particularly useful at this time of the year, could be helpful and so have created a list of the best tips below.

Ensure that Forward Collision Warning is switched on.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW) is a digital instrument provided by the TX to alert the driver of potential collision risks ahead of the vehicle. It is particularly useful in the winter as braking can be done well in advance, reducing chances of control loss or slipping on ice, and so we heavily recommend that this is turned on.

 

Use the Lane Departure Warning.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) is another TX electronic tool which displays its technological skill. The taxi analyses and processes the lane markings on the road and if you are drifting out of your lane, the LDW will, subsequently, produce an alert reminding the driver. Given the icy conditions with the cold and the ease of accidentally drifting, the LDW is extremely helpful indeed.

 

Adjust the heating zone.

To save energy and maximise the efficiency of the cab, the driver can adjust the heating zone to focus on specific areas of the vehicle. When it’s a cold day and there’s no passenger at that moment, the cabbie can cut off the heating circulation to the back and use less energy in heating their own space – another benefit for winter.

 

Use the programmable timer to pre-heat the cab.

As the taxi charges, the driver can set a timer for the heating system to activate. This allows the cabin to warm before the driver/passenger enters and makes the cab even more welcoming upon entry.

 

Turn on the heated seats.

The two points above both emphasise how advantageous the heating apparatus is and without doubt it is largely beneficial. However, the system also uses quite a lot of energy. The TX obviously has a method to solve this – heated seats. Utilising the heated seat application provides that sense of warmth, essential during winter, whilst keeping the energy consumption to a minimum. It is a great feature which we recommend you to make the most of.

 

Play Christmas music using the onboard Wi-Fi.

The TX has a Wi-Fi hub attached within every vehicle. So, as a driver of cold passengers through the winter period, you could cheer them up and restore that festive feeling by utilising the Wi-Fi to access music services and play the classics. We think that your passengers would appreciate it and so urge you to consider it.

Minibuses are replacing buses in parts of rural Wales

The local politicians of Flintshire have decided to substitute local bus services, predominantly used by the elderly around the rural country area, with new minibuses.

Councillors agreed that minibus vehicles provide a more sustainable form of transport for passengers after a funding cut to existing bus operators.

The use of the new minibus fleets is being viewed as significantly more efficient – matching the demand for the service as well as reducing emissions.

Funding for the changes to the transport system came from the Welsh government and the European Union. Over the last few years there has been a big push for the reduction of emissions across the EU with significant funding available to make this happen.

Timetables and schedules for the daily running of the minibuses have been organised to give students lifts to and from school as well.

As a result, more rural areas have seen a greater independence of both the elderly and the youth with a beneficial drop in associated fuel costs and emissions.

The use of minibuses – in replacement of the expensive, less sustainable larger buses – has ultimately worked to better the communities whilst producing an effort against global warming and potential climate change in the long-run.

Minibus Summer Driving Tips

Summer driving brings unique challenges to driving, more vehicles locally, children playing outside, more caravans, cyclists and motorcyclists. This all equates to journey times increasing and traffic jams becoming more likely.

Those who manage drivers must be aware of the issues and schedules should be planned accordingly. Planning journeys for the undoubted holiday traffic jams. There needs to be an increased focus on vehicle conditions and symmetric information provided to drivers on allergies preventing fatigue and minimising RSI- Repetitive strain injury.

Vehicle maintenance

Check coolant levels regularly throughout the summer.

Keep washer fluid full and additional bottles within the car or boot, to prevent minimised vision.

Check tyres for damage due to hot weather increasing the risk of a puncture.

Make sure there is a suitable tread depth of 1.6mm minimum for your car to avoid slippery road surfaces.

Ensure air conditioning is maintained to avoid fainting and a lack of concentration during driving.

Avoid the glare

Glare from the sun can cause road accidents due to the distraction and the reduced vision during trips wearing correct sunglasses can reduce the glare and keep drivers concentration up and their vision. If a driver requires prescription lenses their sunglasses should have the same prescription.

Some lenses will not be suitable for drivers as they don’t in adequate light or they will let in too much due to the limitations as a light transmission. They should not obstruct your periphery vision.

Warm Weather Fatigue

Drivers are more likely to feel fatigued in warmer weather. Tachograph controls will indicate when a commercial vehicle driver should take breaks but drivers without this must follow the upcoming recommendations.

Break a 3-hour journey with a 20-minute stop

Take regular breaks to refresh yourself preferably ever two hours for longer journeys

Avoid eating heavy before driving

Make sure you are wide awake and possibly drink coffee to keep your reactions to a normal speed

Allergy Time

Hay fever causes itchy and watery eyes decreasing vision and concentration, this can be a big distraction to drivers and even a millisecond of not looking at the road can cause fatal accidents. It is advisable to ask drivers who suffer from hay fever to follow steps to reduce the likelihood of an outburst.

Use non drowsy Antihistamines such as cetirizine

Dehydration can decrease awareness and even lead to fainting so always keep an extra bottle of water in your car.

Wear sunglasses when the sun impair your vision while also keeping the pollen away from your eyes

Keep windows closed and use air conditioning to keep the vehicle cool

Provide vehicle purifiers to reduce pollen particles

The Country code

If your routes include rural areas it is better to know about the country code

Tractors can turn erratically and do not need indicators for daytime driving

Tractors have front loaders so the length of the vehicle could be more than you anticipate

Mud tracks left on the ground by tractors can be extremely slippery after rain, take caution.

Summary of key points

Driving in the summer can increase hazards that you may not notice, this can create unique challenges. It is recommended that managers raise awareness for these issues to avoid accidents.

Consider to plan your journeys to avoid the holiday jam and avoid the long queues.

Check that your sunglasses are suitable and with the correct prescription if need be.

Suggest to drivers without tachographs to take regular breaks and remind them about fatigue and the prevention of this.

Maintain your vehicle keeping it in the best shape to avoid controversy and potential danger to you and other drivers.

Monitor pollen count forecasts and work with drivers to ensure they can handle their hay fever.

Starting a Minibus Private Hire Business

Step 1. Research the Minibus Market

You most likely already have identified a gap in the market, it may be a contract that is up for renewal with a local council or school, or a lack of large people carrying vehicles in your local area.

For a business to be successful it needs to identify a niche or gap in the market and then offer a service or product that people want.

A few things to consider:

Where are the nearest local Minibus companies?

What do the competition offer that you could improve on?

Who needs your minibus service?

 

Step 2. Make a business Plan

New start-ups without a business plan have a far higher chance of failing than those that do.

Business plans are critical for the following reasons:

  • To raise money for your business – Such as a bank loan to finance minibuses.
  • To make decisions
  • Help identify and potential issues with cash flow etc.

 

Step 3. Plan your Finances

Starting a minibus company can require a lot of money particularly for purchasing of vehicles, insurance and paying for all the relevant licences. It is well worthwhile putting together a spreadsheet that collated all the costs and predicts cash flow.

 

Step 4: Your Business structure.

When you are starting a business it is worth speaking with a qualified accountant to ensure the business is set up correctly. An accountant will advise the correct business structure which may be as a limited company or a sole proprietor or a number of other ways.

 

Step 5: Pick a Name

Choose a name that appeals not only to you but also to your customers.

Step 6: Get the correct Licences and Permits

If you are setting up a Private Hire business and you have over 9 seats you will need to speak to VOSA and apply for an Operator’s Licence more details can be found on the VOSA website. You will also need to speak with the DVLA to ensure you have the correct extensions on your Driving Licence.

 

Step 7: Choose an accounting system that fits your business

A good accounting system is critical for managing budgets and cash flow, alternatively your accountant may deal with all of your accounting for you.

 

Step 8: Promote your business

To attract clients it is critical you promote your business be it distributing business cards, posters social media or adverts in magazines. It is recommended that you also put together a marketing plan to detail where you intent to receive your enquiries in.

 

If you need any help with the Insurance side of your new minibus business please do not hesitate to call our dedicated Minibus team on 0208 691 9691. We wish you many years of success!

London mayor put forward plans to pedestrianise large parts of Oxford street

Large parts of Oxford street are set to be pedestrianised by December 2018 in time for the launch of Elizabeth Line services.

Today the London Mayor Sadiq khan and Robert Davis the deputy leader of Westminster City Council have announced plans to stop Buses and black Taxis as well as other forms of transport as east to west traffic will be restricted from entering Oxford street between Orchard street and Oxford Circus.

The Mayor hopes that by restricting traffic this will deal with the air quality issues, frequency of accidents and serious congestion. The Elizabeth Line is hoped to have a positive impact on the number of visitors shopping in and around the Oxford street area.

 

School Minibuses – A Safety Guide

Minibuses are large vehicles and driving them requires a great deal of care.

The Responsibility of the Driver

 The volunteer who drives the minibus is personally responsible for keeping it roadworthy. If the Police were to find any faults the driver is liable and could be subject to a fine, motoring convictions or prosecuted for other offences.

The driver is responsible for ensuring the following:

  • The Insurance covers the uses to which the vehicle is going to be used for.
  • The number of passengers does not exceed the limit and the total weight

Training for drivers of minibuses

A Volunteers should only agree to drive if you have received suitable training:

  • Vehicle familiarisation
  • Simple vehicle checks
  • Procedures following an emergency.
  • Use of seatbelts
  • Use of passenger lifts if applicable
  • The loading and removal of wheelchairs and the securing of them to the vehicle.

Safety Checks on a School Minibus

  •  As any defects are the responsibility are the responsibility of the driver it is essential there is a proper vehicle maintenance system in place.
  • If you are not sure checks have been carried out, carry out the checks personally.

Driving Licence Requirements For Minibus Driver

 Quotax would always recommend that you confirm with The Vehicle and Operators Services Agency (VOSA) and the DVLA that you are able to drive the minibus as licensing can change.

If you volunteer to drive a minibus you must by law:

  • Ensure a section 19 permit has been obtained if one is needed;
  • Hold the appropriate full Driving Licence to do so.
  • Are insured on the vehicle.
  • The minibus has less than 18 passenger seats
  • Held a full UK Licence for over 2 years
  • Comply with the local requirements of the local authority.

If you have passed your driving licence before 1st Jan 1997 you would have a category B and D1 requirement automatically on your licence. These allow you to drive minibuses as well as private cars.

If you passed your car driving licence after 1st January 1997 you no longer have automatic Category D1 minibus entitlement. You would need to pass additional Category D1 test to drive minibuses.

Number of Drivers

It is recommended that a second trained driver accompany every teacher driving a minibus. By having two drivers this should help if an emergency arises. The second driver can act as a supervisor. For longer drives the second driver can share the driving to allow suitable rest times.

For more details regarding the licensing VOSA can be contacted on 0870 218 3818.

 

A Guide to Insuring your Minibus

What is a Minibus?

A minibus is a passenger carrying motor vehicle that is designed to carry more passengers than a multi-purpose vehicle or minivan but less than a bus or coach. Typically they are between 9 and 17 seats and are a great low cost way of transporting small groups of people around.

Do I need specialist Insurance to drive a minibus?

Minibuses can be used for a wide range of uses and often by multiple drivers therefore you will require specialist insurance to drive a minibus. To ensure you have insured your minibus correctly we would also recommend speaking to a specialist Minibus Insurance broker that has experience in this market and can therefore recommend a product that best suits your needs.

Will I be able to find Minibus quotes online?

Minibus Insurance typically is more expensive than insuring small vehicles such as estates and salons. Minibuses carry more passengers and as such are more expensive to Insure. It is best to speak to a broker as we have found online websites generating quotes but not supplying the correct cover because it hasn’t picked up the fact that the vehicle has more seats.

Can I insure a minibus for a short period of time?

Here at Quotax we have an exclusive short term minibus scheme with a leading Insurer, if you would like to discuss cover options please call our team.

If I take out Minibus Insurance can I drive other cars and minibuses Third party only?

Unfortunately we don’t know of any Insurer that allows cover to driver other vehicles when taking out a Minibus Insurance policy.

What are the requirements if I wanted to drive a minibus not for ‘hire and reward’

We always recommend speaking to the Vehicle and Operators Services Agency and the Driver and Vehicle licensing Agency but current guidance as of the 14/08/2017 is as follows:

✔ 21 or older

✔ Had your driving licence for at least 2 years

✔ Meet the group 2 medical standards if you’re over 70 – check with your GP if you are not sure you meet the standards

✔ You’re driving on a voluntary basis and the minibus is not more than 3.5 tonnes – or 4.25 tonnes including specialist equipment for disabled passenger, for example a wheelchair ramp

✔ You’re not towing a trailer

We are a Not for profit organisation and would like to make a small charge towards the running costs of the minibus, will I need Private Hire Insurance?

If you are an organisation providing transport on a ‘’not for profit basis’ you can apply for either a section 19 or section 22 permit. These permits allow an organisation to make a charge towards the running costs of the vehicle, without a view to profit.

How quickly will I be able to get a quote for my minibus?

We have a specialist minibus team available to take your call between 9am & 5pm, often we are able to run through details which usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes and deliver a quote within half an hour. If you would like to discuss your requirements with our team please call us on 0208 691 9691.

Get a quote for Minibus Insurance

£200,000 deal for Fylde minibus firm

A Fylde coach and minibus company has been brought by Rotala.

Rotala, the Birmingham based company has put forward an investment of £200,000 to buy Elite Minibus and Coach Services in Fylde.

The company, based in Blackpool, has a fleet ranging from 4 to 53 seated vehicles and has been established for 28 years in Fylde.

They have a service contract with the local authority for the Service Number 87 that goes between Cleveleys and Poulton, along with several school and college contracts.

The company, together with its private hire business generates an annual revenue of around £500,000.

In a statement made by Rotala to the stock market they go on to say “This acquisition will broaden the range of services which Preston Bus is able to offer in this area of Lancashire and add to its geographical reach.”

Rotala has had a turnover in the last few years of just over £50m however it has raised its aims to generate a figure of £85m following its expansion.

Rotala’s hold operations in Bristol, Essex, Manchester and is also the owner of Preston Bus which it brought back in January 2011.

The LSE statement said: “This business, with its small number of existing staff will be integrated into the outstation which Rotala already operates in Blackpool through its subsidiary company, Preston Bus.”

It went on to add that the vehicle fleet of Elite had a fair value of £150,000 and that Rotala would not assume any other assets or liabilities of materiality on acquisition.

“On this basis the Acquisition is expected to generate about £50,000 of positive goodwill on consolidation and is expected to be earnings enhancing from completion.”

Bob Dunn the Director added: “We already operate a few services in Blackpool, eight at this moment in time however this will give us another six.

“We have always seen the area as one we wanted to expand into and we have other things planned for the wider North West.

“We want to develop the whole region with more of a coach operation, but are also looking at bus opportunities.”

Volkswagon unveil an all-electric minibus for the future

Volkswagon ID Buzz Minibus

Volkswagon has unveiled a new futuristic concept of the old minibus called the I.D Buzz.

The vehicle will be zero-emission and can seat up to eight people. It will also come with a ton of hi-tech features including an “augmented reality” display screen.

The vehicle will have a self-driving mode which when given a “slight push” it will activate and allow the driver’s seat to swivel 180 degrees allowing them to join the passengers.  Also, each drivers preferences in terms of seat height and music are linked to a ‘cloud’ which will automatically activate when the driver gets into the vehicle.

The Buzz will have a max speed of 99mph in order to save battery life and can do 0-60 mph in five seconds.  The battery will be 11kWh which can be charged to 80% within half an hour. The vehicle will also have a driving range of around 270 miles which is comparable to petrol/diesel cars.

Keeping with the old ‘hippy’ style, the seats will recline to make ‘beds’ which will allow several people to snooze at any time.

The plans were unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Dr Herbert Diess, from Volkswagon has advised that the new plans would begin in 2020 and has promised a “completely new vehicle architecture”.

Dr H Diess also added that the company will be launching a new generation of all-electric vehicles with the vision to make “electric mobility the new trademark of Volkswagon”