Some interesting points regarding school transport

I recently had a School Transport Manager from one of the larger county councils call to discuss the availability of certain types of vehicles, to give him guidance on what specifications to use on this year’s tenders.

During the course of that conversation, several interesting points came out.

Firstly, PSVAR. He believes this will push prices up, as the council is duty bound to require it. He believes the wheelchair lift idea for coaches is ridiculous, and just a sop to the operators that prefer to use such vehicles.

In general, councils will not specify that type when there is a requirement for PSVAR on a specific route, as they feel it is demeaning for the wheelchair occupant and has safety issues in most locations.

However, the PSVAR situation is now taking second place to climate change, and many of the councils will be looking at specifying Euro VI vehicles as well.

I did make the point that Euro VI is not that common outside London, and it will push prices even higher, and he agreed with me on this.

So, that was the point of the call – any ideas please?

I started with the obvious question: Do things still only hinge on price? The Transport Manager’s answer to that was: “Yes, but with Euro VI and PSVAR as the aspiration”.

My next question to him was whether councils are planning to either ban or disapprove of the use of two-door (front entrance and centre exit) double-deck buses. I asked for his view of the following scenario:

A tender is called for a 50-seat vehicle for use on a school service. Operator A submits a price of £350 a day for a non-PSVAR Euro IV coach. Operator B submits a price of £400 a day for PSVAR-compliant Euro V coach. Operator C submits a price of £300 a day, using a two-door double-decker with PSVAR and Euro VI compliance, and seating for 63.

There was a long pause before he answered operator C; that he would prefer a single door, but would not rule out using dual-door buses.

So, from that, it would appear that Euro VI and PSVAR are both important. Two doors will be reluctantly accepted, and the side-mounted wheelchair lifts on coaches are merely looked upon as an expensive gimmick.

Name and address supplied.