This year has proven to be one of great importance with regards to the development of our minibus compliance services and training course.

Taking a look back over 2019, we reflect on how we have focussed on compliance and safety and intend to continue making these critical values even more accessible to schools in 2020.

The Minibus Compliance Course (MCC) strengthened and went international

The MCC and the follow up, Green Light Review was launched in September 2018 and in early 2019 was taken as far afield as Scotland, following recommendations from former Senior Traffic Commissioner for Great Britain, Beverley Bell at the Scottish ISBA Conference.

This was a great turning point for the MCC as the course gained international acceptance for improving school transport safety through a legislation and compliance focussed training course.

Minibus Compliance Course in Guildford

This came about at the same time as Route One published the story of four minibuses that were impounded ‘because they were being used for hire and reward with no O-Licence.’ Route One February 2019.

 The Route One article highlighted the importance of understanding the restrictions under which you can run a minibus whilst holding a Section 19 Permit rather than an operator’s O Licence. The striking message that we took from this story is that ignorance of the law is no excuse and will not protect your vehicles, or your precious cargo. The Minibus Compliance Course covers precisely this topic under the section, ‘The Legal Minefield’, along with three other key areas; Vehicles, Drivers, and The Journey.

Rivus (previously BT Fleet Solutions) brought on board for improved 10-week inspection service

In May 2019, Castle Minibus’ managing director, Chris Maynard and Henry Brace, MD of BT Fleet Solutions met to seal the deal for the improved provision of on-site 10-week safety inspections for school minibuses.

As trusted advisors to over 2,000 UK independent and state schools, and as industry leaders in terms of minibus compliance and safety training, the partnership with BT Fleet Solutions, renamed Rivus Fleet Solutions in October this year, bolstered our provision to schools with over 10,000 safety inspections, pre-MOT checks and MOT collect-and-returns across the UK. Utilising Rivus’ 50+ mobile engineers makes these vital safety inspections easier to arrange and more accessible to our school customers.

Minibus Compliance with Rivus van displaying equipment for minibus safety inspections

Castle’s Online Driver Assessment (CODA) trialled

The summer saw the initial trial of our online driver assessment programme, CODA. Part of any management process or safety system is ongoing assessments, checks and record keeping and CODA is an affordable, simple and accessible way for schools to regularly risk assess their drivers without taking them out of school.

CODA works for both school transport managers as a dashboard and record keeping system, and for drivers to assess their own training skills, knowledge and training needs.

castles Online Driver Assessment

Read more about CODA on the website and begin a free trial of the drivers’ risk assessment.

Castle introduces James Brown and Sons for reduced school minibus insurance premiums

In October we were very proud to add a new introduction service to our valuable resources for school transport management. School minibus insurance can be costly, difficult to arrange and even incur additional administrative costs due to irregular periods of cover required.

Due to our relationship with James Brown and Sons and insurance underwriters First Insurance, we are able to introduce you to school minibus insurance providers who offer preferential rates for our customers. This comes about due to James Brown and Sons bespoke service to cater for ‘complex insurance needs’, and further reductions can be claimed following your school’s demonstrated commitment to minibus compliance and safety by attending the MCC.

Minibus Insurance Savings from Castle Minibus

Please note, Castle Minibus is not an insurance broker and acts solely as an introduction service for James Brown and Sons. Our aim is to make quality insurance easily accessible for all our school customers.

New School Transport Manager app developed for 2020: STRIDA

Now in December we find ourselves just weeks away from the launch of the re-developed School Transport Manager app, now called STRIDA – the School Transport Record and Inspection Dashboard and App.

School Transport Manager app - STRIDA

STRIDA has been developed with two users in mind; the School Transport Manager, and the minibus driver.

An easy checklist for pre-journey/daily walkaround checks has been developed with just 12 points to complete, which doesn’t require the driver to open the bonnet. This has been done so that drivers can conduct the check in a concise way without taking too long.

A simple traffic light system makes it easy for the driver to flag up any issues regarding the checks, and for the transport manager to see what action needs to be taken to rectify any issues.

Available on Android and iOS, STRIDA will be free to download to anyone who has any responsibility towards the management of school minibuses and their drivers.

Keep up to date with the progress of STRIDA and be sure to get the app as soon as possible; call 01869 253744 or email compliance@castleminibus.co.uk

You can read more about the new transport manager app in our blog. Or register your interest and be the first to download by contacting us on the details above. It now just remains to say, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all, and thank you for your ongoing support of Castle Minibus and our endeavours to raise the standards of safety for school transport and stay Champions of Minibus Safety. We look forward to all that 2020 will bring.