‘The whole thing is a mess, and there is plenty of blame to go around’

I thought Stuart Render’s article regarding PSVAR was very good and explained the current position, however if I had spent a considerable amount of money on a PSVAR-compliant vehicle when it turns out I needn’t have, I would be somewhat upset.

I was explaining to colleagues three years ago that the government could not enforce the Regulations as there weren’t enough vehicles; home-to-school services would collapse; the cost was too much; the home-to-school contract prices were insufficient to operate a PSVAR coach or bus; and my advice at the time, rightly or wrongly, was to not spend any money when you don’t have to.

Also, I can perfectly understand that operators that have spent money on upgrading to PSVAR when they need not have are understandably upset when their business rivals are operating 20-year-old non-PSVAR vehicles on home-to-school contracts at rates a lot cheaper than they can.

The whole thing is a mess, and there is plenty of blame to go around with the biggest mistake in my view when the Regulations first came out.

The government should have said that all PCVs built after a certain date (say, 2005) would have to be PSVAR and comply with the Regulations; all the buses complied, but nobody thought coaches would, and in any event, operators would not pay for a PSVAR-compliant
coach as it was more expensive than an ordinary coach, and they did not have to.

Operators that did spend the money on a PSVAR-compliant coach were under a commercial disadvantage from the start, in what is still a cutthroat market.

But we are where we are.