Ken Skates AM, Minister for Economy and Transport
The Public Services Vehicle Accessibility (PSVAR) Regulations 2000 are due to come into force on January 1 2020 and require, quite rightly, that all public service vehicles are accessible for everybody. They are aimed at removing the barriers that many people face in using buses and trains which I fully support.
The regulations will apply to transport for learners provided by local authorities on a discretionary basis where the local authorities collect a fee from the learner, this is generally for post 16 learners. The regulations will not include transport that local authorities provide to learners in their area under statutory arrangements or where the local authority does not charge a fee for discretionary transport arrangements.
Arising from my discussions with the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps MP, on the impact of the Regulations on learner transport I am pleased to be able to report that a temporary transitionary arrangement has been introduced. Whilst the Department for Transport has no intention of repealing the Regulation, which comes into force on the 1 January 2020, this extension will provide local authorities the ability to plan how they propose to mitigate the unintended consequences of this Regulation on school transport.
The Department for Transport has written to all local authorities and schools and colleges which commission their own services, to offer an initial two years extension from PSVAR for vehicles providing home to school transport, on which up to twenty percent of seats are sold. Since this is not a devolved area, it will be the Department for Transport who will be administering and consenting the extension with local authorities.
My officials will engage with local authorities to hear their views on the proposal and to gather information on how they propose to ensure compliance with the Regulation, when the transitionary arrangement comes to an end.