Llanelli’s Member of the Senedd Lee Waters and MP Nia Griffith have expressed their disappointment with the Department For Transport (DfT) after a further exemption for school buses was denied.
The row concerns the implementation of new UK wide accessibility regulations. The Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulation (PSVAR) requires all large public vehicles to be wheelchair accessible, and has been gradually phased in since 2000. Last Autumn, children who used fare-paying ‘closed’ bus services to get to school found their routes had been withdrawn, as operators were unable to afford the costs of complying with PSVAR. This has been particularly damaging for rural communities that are within three miles of their local schools like Tumble.
In May, County Councillor Rob James (leader of the Labour group), Nia Griffith, and Lee Waters wrote a joint letter to Chris Heaton, UK Minister of State for Transport, calling for these services to be exempt from PSVAR for the next academic year until a sustainable solution could be found.
Mr Heaton however ruled out the possibility of another extension, writing that it would “disadvantage those operators which had already invested in compliant vehicles ahead of the final deadlines.”
The Minister went onto add that he would be “considering actively what further support might be appropriate to provide once the exemption for school and college arranged services expires on the 31st July.”
Lee Waters said “Converting the bus fleet was proving uneconomical before this crisis, now with COVID-19 it is almost impossible from a financial point of view, and the UK Government are fully aware of this. These are absolutely unprecedented circumstances, and having granted a similar exemption for all rail replacement services till the end of the year, we had