PSVAR: A problem 20 years in the making

PSVAR. No sooner have I come to terms with Saturday afternoon VAR than it would seem someone has devised a version aimed at school bus operators.

I’m envisaging a man in a studio adjudicating on the antics of 22 or more pampered, foul-mouthed, screaming, kicking, spitting individuals with the ultimate sanction of dishing out a few red cards.

Sounds ridiculous? No more so than why non-statutory home-to-school transport should be included in PSVAR legislation in the first place.

To discriminate against a wheelchair-bound person is wrong. PSVAR ensures that everyone is able to make a journey by public transport without the worry of not being able to get on or off. I completely understand why this train of thought should encompass rail replacement services.

But I just don’t get its relevance to closed-door home-to-school transport.

Councils have been transporting wheelchair users to and from schools for as long as there have been wheelchairs and schools. They use suitably designed taxis and minibuses driven by staff who receive training in such matters. If ever there was an argument for a category of vehicle to be fitted with a wheelchair lift (which there isn’t) it would be vehicles with fewer than 22 seats.

Unlike someone going for a bus or a train, a school transport wheelchair user is known to the council in advance of travel, at which point the most cost-effective solution to their transport needs will be found.

One option would be to procure a PSVAR compliant bus or coach, although this seems unlikely. Because the user is known in advance of travel, there is no benefit of legislating to make the entire vehicle pool PSVAR compliant. Provided the necessary arrangements have been put in place, there is no possibility of a wheelchair user being discriminated against.

Any industry trade association worth its salt would have nailed this long ago. Instead, we find ourselves embroiled in the 11th hour moaning, groaning and head-burying which, sadly, typifies our industry every time a new piece of legislation is about to be implemented.

We’ve had the last 20 years to sort this out without things coming to this.


Simon Weaver,
Weavaway Travel Group,
Thatcham, Berkshire