Community Transport and the Department for Transport's proposed consultation Contents


What is community transport?

1.Community transport (CT) is a very broad term for local road passenger transport services delivered by charitable and other not-for-profit organisations, typically where there is no viable commercial market. The core work of community transport organisations (CTOs) has traditionally included:

2.The Transport Act 1985 legislated for a light touch licensing regime for these types of services relative to conventional, profit-making operations. Sections 18 to 23A of the Act provide exemptions from full Passenger Service Vehicle (PSV) operator and Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) driver licensing requirements, including the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), which are designed to ensure stringent service and safety standards in the commercial sector.2 The system is intended to be a more proportionate and cost-effective regime for services of community benefit that might otherwise not exist. Not-for-profit CT services have therefore been allowed to operate under:

3.Permits may be issued by the regional Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain, the independent statutory body, and a range of “designated bodies”, including community organisations concerned with “education; religion; social welfare; recreation; and other activities of benefit to the community.” Designated bodies also include local authorities, which can issue permits to themselves, for use in relation to in-house CT services run by council staff, and to local organisations concerned with the community benefit activities listed above.3

Our inquiry and this Report

4.We launched our inquiry into community transport in October, in response to concerns that many not-for-profit community minibus services for vulnerable and potentially isolated people were under existential threat from proposed changes to licensing law and the Department for Transport’s (DfT) guidance. We were also aware that Members on all sides of the House had been contacted by concerned community transport providers and other constituents, and had raised the issue in Parliamentary Questions and debates.4

5.We received nearly 300 submissions in response to our call for evidence. These demonstrated the huge strength of feeling amongst those who deliver and use community-run services. In our first evidence session, we heard from providers of not-for-profit community transport, alongside commercial operators, some of whom have been seeking legal redress against what they see as unfair practices in the not-for-profit sector. We then heard from local transport commissioners in our second session, followed by those responsible for guidance on the law and its enforcement: the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA); the Traffic Commissioners for Great Britain; and the DfT’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads, Local Transport and Devolution, Jesse Norman MP.5

6.Alongside our formal evidence-taking, we opened an online forum, as a more accessible way for community groups, service users and their families to express their views. It was abundantly clear from comments on the forum that not-for-profit community transport services are valued extremely highly.6 We are grateful to all of those who took the time to contribute to our inquiry, either through written evidence, oral evidence or via our online forum.

7.The DfT intends to launch a consultation shortly on its proposals to amend legislation and guidance, in response to long-standing concerns and recent legal challenges at European level from a group of commercial operators (see chapters 2 and 3). Our inquiry and this Report are intended to scrutinise the DfT’s oversight of the community transport sector and emphasise key issues that must be addressed in the consultation, with a view to ensuring that any changes to legislation and guidance do not put at risk vital services that enhance the lives of many thousands of people. Our recommendations on the consultation are set out in chapter 4.

1 Mobility Matters (CTT0271); Transport Committee, Passenger transport in isolated communities, Fourth Report of Session 2014–15, HC 288, paras 32–7

2 See ‘Public service vehicle (PSV) operator licensing guide’ and ‘Become a lorry or bus driver’, GOV.UK, accessed 28 November 2017

3Section 19 and 22 permits: not for profit passenger transport’, GOV.UK, accessed 28 November 2017

4 See, for example, PQ 10472 [on Community Transport: Licensing], 13 September 2017; HC Deb, 19 October, col 988; col 990

5 For full terms of reference see “Community Transport inquiry launched”, Transport Committee press release, 10 October 2017. A full list of witnesses is set out at the end of this Report.

6Community Transport online forum’, Transport Committee, accessed 6 December 2017

13 December 2017

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