Trade body RHA has cautioned that the forthcoming government review of PSVAR is highly unlikely to lead to any major backtracking in how the Regulations are applied to coaches.
Despite that, Operations Manager – Coaches Andy Warrender says that there is now an acceptance by the Department for Transport (DfT) that PSVAR in coaches has not delivered on the original aims for the Regulations and a recognition that change is needed. DfT committed to a review of PSVAR in the National Bus Strategy for England, which was published in March, although it says that the process may not be completed until late 2023.
PSVAR remains the overriding concern for RHA coach operator members. Mr Warrender notes that while there “is room for change” in how it is applied to coaches, where shared ground with the Equality Act exists it is unthinkable that any requirements of the latter will alter.
RHA is keen to see PSVAR’s focus expand so that it does not concentrate solely on vehicles and the associated responsibilities of their operators.
“There is an acceptance across the industry that demand for accessible journeys should be met. Whether that will need every coach to be accessible is a different matter,” he adds. Like other approaches to complying with PSVAR that have been put forward, RHA’s recognises that the industry must move towards a position where it can support every opportunity for accessible travel on coaches.
Mr Warrender says that greater attention must also be paid to how PSVAR functions alongside external infrastructure, and to enabling compliant coaches to deploy lifts at pick-up and drop-off points. The many difficulties that exist in that regard have been highlighted by numerous operators. He adds that an entirely accessible coach fleet will not make all journeys accessible until the difficult circle of suitable roadside facilities has been squared.