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”

Driverless bus tests start in Paris

Paris, a city with chronic pollution and traffic are experimenting with electric powered self-driving shuttle which will link two train stations.

Two EZ10 minibuses that have a capacity to carry 6 seated and 6 standing passengers went into a trial service yesterday. The trial will run till April and will cover between Lyon and Austerlitz stations in Paris.

RATP president, Elisabeth Borne said ‘The autonomous vehicle presents an opportunity for new services in less densely populated areas.’

The vehicles will be GPS guided and will run seven days a week, free of charge to customers.

The minibuses will run in a single traffic lane at 15 miles per hour, back and forth. The bus will not require an infrastructure as it will use a virtual route which can be changed at any time.

The EZ10 minibus has already been tested in other countries such as the United States, Japan and Finland. They have also set plans for it to be tested in two main ‘green’ spaces in southern Paris

 RAPT also have hopes to introduce regular routes for such high-tech vehicles within the next 2 years.

Minibus licence loophole, is it putting people at risk?

A legal loophole has been found which allows drivers of “public carriage vehicles” who are not subject to a criminal check.

A spokesman for the Department of Transport confirmed it was planning to take immediate action as the loophole would allow “unscrupulous drivers” to legally work even if the local councils have placed a ban on them.

The current rules and regulations mean that drivers of public carriage vehicles are licensed by the DVLA whereas local councils license taxi drivers.

Taxi drivers are required to undergo enhanced criminal record checks when being issued with a license.

The LGA has advised that the loophole meant that drivers who had either been refused a taxi/minicab licence or whose license had been revoked could instead obtain a minibus licence which allows them to operate in the same area.

In some cases, the drivers continued to work for the same company however with a different license.

The LGA has urged the government to change the law, thus removing the loophole and ensuring that vehicles seating 9-16 people were licensed by the local council.

Simon Blackburn from the LGA has expressed that the majority of minibus drivers are ‘trusted by the public’ however the loophole has provided opportunity for ‘questionable’ drivers to work in close proximity to the public even in cases where the council have deemed it not safe to do.

He continued to say “Larger minibuses are often sent in place of a regular taxi to pick up individuals or small parties, purely because they are nearest to the pick-up point rather than because there is a requirement for such a large vehicle.

“They are used to take groups of children to school, or to drive groups home after nights out.

“It is therefore extremely worrying that councils’ proactive work to protect taxi passengers from harm – and particularly those who may be most vulnerable – is being undermined by this loophole.”

Some Minibus Safety Tips from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

A Minibus being a large multi-passenger vehicle need to be driven with extreme caution. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have put together an extremely informative booklet to assist those who drive Minibuses.

 The full guide can be found at the following web address: http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/drivers/bus-coach-minibus-drivers/

 A summary of some of the information relating to the management of drivers is below:

 Almost all road accidents are caused by, or involve Human error some of the most common causes are below:

 

  • Being Distracted
  • Failure to give way
  • Failure to look properly
  • Loss of control of the vehicle
  • Careless, thoughtless, reckless driving
  • Poor turn or manoeuvre
  • Lack of judgement
  • Inappropriate speed

 

Operators should ensure that every minibus driver:

 

  • Has the appropriate driving licence to drive the vehicle
  • Understands their responsibilities
  • Undergoes initial and periodic assessments of ability to drive a minibus, especially if they do not drive a minibus regularly or they are driving one after a long period of not doing so.
  • Receives Practical driver training in a minibus, as necessary, under the conditions in which they are likely to drive the minibus.
  • Has a clean driving licence (at the discretion of the Operator)
  • Medically fit to drive the minibus
  • Ensures they are well rested before driving and takes regular rest breaks
  • Is accompanied by a second driver, who is fully qualified to drive the vehicle
  • Always carries their driving licence.
  • Undergoes assessment if they are involved in a blameworthy Accident.

 It is also recommended that Operators set a minimum standard for their drivers and ensure that all drivers fall within that criteria.

 Operators who take an active role in training and managing drivers using their vehicles reduce the number of incidents their vehicles are involved in and therefore reduce the ongoing cost of Minibus Insurance.

 

The self-driving minibus that has hit America

The company Local Motors has gone into partnership with IBM in order to create “Olli” the world’s first 3D printed self- driving, electric minibus.

The chassis of the vehicle is manufactured using a 3D printer which takes around 24 hours to print. The vehicle is then fitted with a battery and an IT system. It will also make use of IBM’s “Watson” Cognitive learning technology.

The minibus can carry up to 12 passengers and has already been a hit in Washington DC and will soon be rolling out to Miami and Las Vegas.

Olli can be hailed via an app much like Uber and passengers will be able to interact with Olli conversationally as the Watson technology will allow it to discuss destinations and other topics such as how it works. The use of the Watson technology will not distract Olli from its driving duties and according to the designers Olli can see much more and react quicker to situations than what a human could and can process high volumes of transport data via its 30 embedded sensors.

The US has pledged $4 billion to fund driverless vehicles so far as more and more cities are interesting in them.

Tips for minibus insurance

  • Increase Voluntary Excess – Insurance policies will generally have a compulsory excess which you would have to pay in the event of you making claim. Most insurance companies will allow you to add a voluntary increase on the excess which will bring the cost of your insurance down however we advise you make sure you are comfortable with the amount as it would be requested in the event of a claim.
  • No Claims Bonus (NCB) – The more years you have available the lower your premium will be. We can also accept No Claims Bonus from a private car as long as it is not already being used.
  • Introductory Discounts – In the event you do not have any No Claim Bonus we may still be able to offer an introductory discount which would depend on your claims history. As long as you hold an accident free claims history from a similar vehicle we may be able to offer a discount which is the equivalent to having 3 years No Claim Bonus.
  • Driver Restrictions – If you only have one or two people that will be driving the vehicle it may work out cheaper if you restrict your policy to the named drivers only. We also advise you check the drivers licenses to confirm they have no points that may further effect the premium. We advise you obtain confirmation of who is covered to drive the vehicle before proceeding.
  • Usage – Make sure you inform the broker/insurer of the exact use of the vehicle as failure to do so may lead in the policy not indemnifying you in the result of an accident. We also advise to make sure drivers have the correct license for the vehicle.
  • Claims – If you are involved in an accident we recommended you think about the cost of the repairs before making a claim. If the incident has caused minor damage it may be more cost effective to settle the bill yourself to keep your next year’s premium low.
  • Compliant – If the vehicle is being used for a school or educational facility we advise you should ensure that you are complying with the policy and that the policy meets the requirements of your Local Education Authority (LEA).