Castle Minibus, the UK’s leading provider of minibuses for the UK’s school have renewed calls for schools to check the weights of the vehicles they are buying following a series of enquiries about the Peugeot and Citroen L4 H2 17 seat ‘lightweight’ minibuses.

We are launching an online communication campaign, including emails and social media, to encourage schools to be sure the vehicles they are buying meet the criteria – under a Section 19 Permit – for a standard car licence.

Following numerous calls from school to Castle Minibus, Chris Maynard, Managing Director of Castle Minibus is concerned that the Peugeot and Citroen L4 H2 17 seat minibuses are being marketed as being suitable to be driven on a car licence – when their GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) is 4005kg – 505 kg OVER the limit for a standard car licence. Schools are under the impression an access ramp, included in the spec, justifies the weight, but this is not the case according to the DVSA.

The guidelines on licencing and vehicle weights under a  Section 19 Permit clearly state that-

Category B entitles them to drive a small bus but only if all of the following conditions are met:

  • they have held a full category B car licence for at least 2 years
  • they receive no payment or other consideration for driving other than out-of-pocket expenses
  • the vehicle has a maximum gross weight not exceeding 3.5 tonnes (4.25 tonnes including specialised equipment for the carriage of disabled passengers)

(https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/section-19-and-22-permits-not-for-profit-passenger-transport/section-19-and-22-permits-not-for-profit-passenger-transport#annex-2—recommended-maintenance-arrangements)

The additional weight can only be used for specialist equipment; having a ramp on the vehicle does not justify the additional weight. The vehicle’s GVW is given as 4005kg before anything is added.

To ensure that the rules have not changed Castle Minibus checked with the DVSA – their technical officers confirmed

DVSA do not consider a folding ramp increases the weight of the vehicle to require the extra weight increase. The legislation to allow the extra weight was intended for the likes of lift equipment that can weigh up to 750kg. The vehicle should have the same payload when fitted as it was if not fitted.

If the gross weight of the vehicle is 4005kgs the lifting equipment must weigh 505 kg to benefit the category B licence.

If the gross weight is the max allowed 4250kg the lift equipment should weigh 750kg to benefit the category B licence.

It will take a court of law to clarify this but that is DVSA’s interpretation.

Technicalofficeres@dvsa.gov.org  – 3rd March 2022

Castle Minibus is therefore urging schools to

  1. Ask for evidence to show any additional weight over 3500kg is attributed to specialist equipment.
  2. Contact the DVSA on Tel: 0300 123 9000 or email technicalofficers@dvsa.gov.uk to seek clarification if they are unsure.

This is the second time in the past few years that confusion over specific non-D1 vehicle weights has affected schools. The change in the weight of the 14 seat Ford Transit Euro 5 from 3500kg to 4100kg in the Euro 6 model resulted in schools – who thought they were replacing like for like – to either change their new vehicles or ensure their drivers had D1 entitlement.

Chris Maynard concludes “It is important that schools know and understand the rules surrounding minibus weights and licences – especially if they are specifically looking to avoid the need for D1 entitlement and driver training. We urge them to seek clarity from the sellers on weights and consult the DVSA for further clarity.”

-ends-

 

More information

How to find the GVW on a vehicle?

Gross vehicle weights are also referred to as the maximum authorised mass (MAM). It is the weight of a vehicle including the maximum load (passengers, driver, luggage) that can be carried safely when it’s being used on the road.

Brochures for new vehicles will include the GVW. The GVW is also included on a plate on the vehicle (therefore it is sometimes referred to as the plated weight). This plate is sometimes called the chassis plate or VIN plate and is usually found in the door frame, under the bonnet or in a front footwell and looks like the image below. The GVW or MAM is always the second largest weight; in the photo below it is 4100.

finding the gross vehicle weight of your minibus

Finding the gross vehicle weight of your minibus

Castle Minibus are the industry leader in the education minibus sector.

Established in 1995 and based in Bicester Oxfordshire, they are a trusted adviser to over 2000 UK schools and organisations; supplying vehicles, maintenance services and online vehicle and driver safety programmes.

Champions of Minibus Safety, Castle Minibus has always urged schools to learn more about their responsibilities under a Section 19 Permit as a route to increasing safety; this includes understanding the impact vehicle weights have on licences, as well as an appreciation that driving a minibus is very different from driving a car – and driver training should be a must.

Castle Minibus wrote and delivered The Minibus Compliance Course, the UK’s only minibus management course written specifically for schools in 2019; which was made available online during the pandemic.