Figures from North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) demonstrate the absurdity of thw application of PSVAR to home to school transport.
In 2018/19, NYCC raised £610,000 by selling spare seats on home to school services that it procures to non-entitled pupils.
For that to continue long term, PSVAR compliance will be needed on all contracts, unless further exemptions are issued.
Achieving that will cost NYCC £2.7m per year. As a result, it is beginning a move to the ‘least bad’ situation: The eventual abandonment of selling spare seats, unless a PSVAR compliant vehicle is already utilised. That means NYCC will see a long-term funding reduction.
In a consultation document, NYCC makes two relevant comments. Firstly, it notes: “We know in advance if pupils routinely require accessible transport and we will provide it when necessary.”
Then comes the killer: “We also know that there has been no need or demand from parents, pupils or schools for most mainstream school transport to be accessible.”
NYCC stands to lose significant annual income because of a poorly thought out, poorly applied piece of legislation that pays no heed to what happens ‘on the ground’.
There is no argument against the idea that pupils with mobility issues should be provided with suitable transport that enables them to travel to and from their place of education.
But there is a case that the application of PSVAR to home to school services needs rethinking – or there would be, had the government not introduced exemptions at the last minute and after some operators had invested to comply as things then stood.
DfT needs to find a solution to this problem. It created it, after all.