Members of the industry have again been urged to respond to the call for evidence (CfE) that is key to the review of PSVAR. The latest encouragement is from Under-Secretary of State for Transport Richard Holden, who has acknowledged that the government’s response to the CfE – which was published on 12 June – must reflect the realities of operation.
Mr Holden was speaking on 1 August at a webinar organised by the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT). Taking a more approachable tone with the sector on PSVAR than his predecessor Baroness Vere, the minister acknowledges the industry’s “tremendous progress” toward compliance thus far, something that “really needs to be applauded.”
Operators have put “significant investment” into making services accessible since PSVAR debuted over two decades ago. Mr Holden recognises that challenges to achieving compliance are clear, particularly in relation to home-to-school and rail replacement services, but he notes that the government is “working towards full compliance” there.
PSVAR review: Why it is being done now?
“The question is: Why are we reviewing the Regulations now? The answer is that times change,” Mr Holden continues. He adds that ministers’ understanding of accessibility has grown significantly during the life thus far of PSVAR and that the travel needs and expectations of disabled people may not be the same as they were in the past.
The review will consider matters including the extent to which PSVAR serves passengers and how the Regulations could evolve to better do so; how well passengers with impairments are catered for and where that could be improved; and how accessibility sits alongside decarbonisation.
Ministers want to see evidence on those themes in relation to what has worked well and what has not, Mr Holden continues.
Views from the industry “are going to be critical to making this CfE a success,” he notes, highlighting how input from operators via CPT on the Public Service Vehicles (Accessible Information) Regulations helped to shape that work.
Ministers and civil servants ‘crystal clear’ on response’s reflection
“The same will be true of our approach to PSVAR,” he says. “I invite you all to answer the CfE, share your knowledge and be the driving force that you already have been in continuing positive change in the industry.” Ministers and civil servants are “crystal clear” that the government’s response “must reflect the realities of your operations.”
On the gathering, CPT Operations Manager Keith McNally says the Confederation was pleased to welcome both Mr Holden and other Department for Transport representatives and a strong cohort of members. He says that CPT will now analyse feedback “to ensure that their voices are heard in our coordinated PSVAR industry response to the government’s questions.”
For a fuller report on CPT’s PSVAR webinar, including the operator question and answer session, see the forthcoming print issue of routeone, published on Wednesday 9 August.
The full call for evidence document is here. Closing date for responses is 4 September.