While I am sure we all understand and recognise the need for PSVAR compliance – and there are areas of transport where it surely should apply – this letter is purely with regards to home-to-school transport.
First and foremost, I would like to understand where the statistics have come from to back up the need for all home-to-school transport to be PSVAR compliant.
There will obviously have been some thorough research carried out before disrupting the coach industry to such an extent that many operators may be forced to cease trading.
The main reason for this to be implemented is presumably because there are many students who require wheelchair access that attend mainstream schools.
Students that attend special educational needs (SEN) schools generally require escorts, and there is a query over whether it would upset their wellbeing if they were to travel with 50 or so able-bodied students.
Have the parents and carers of these children been surveyed? These children are already provided with SEN transport which, incidentally, is equipped to carry more than one wheelchair at a time.
Upon trying to understand the need for this huge and costly change, I contacted two of my local authorities (LAs) to enquire as to how many wheelchair users needed daily home-to-school transport.
One LA has 28 wheelchair users, of which two students travel to mainstream schools and the remainder attend an SEN school.
Those students who travel to the SEN school are provided with escorts and wheelchair accessible vehicles.
The other LA has 24 wheelchair users that attend an SEN school and one child who attends a mainstream school.
I have also contacted the schools that we currently provide home-to-school transport for, and none have any wheelchair-bound students whatsoever.
Can we assume, then, that these statistics do not follow throughout the country? Otherwise, I fail to recognise the need for every coach to be PSVAR compliant.
Surely the most sensible approach would be for each coach operator to accommodate the demand should it arise, or else face the necessary legal proceedings.