When is a vehicle being used for carrying passengers?

A recent case has shown that a vehicle does not have to be in motion, to be used for carrying passengers.

The case involved a company that had a contract with a local authority to provide a school bus services. Under the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, there is a duty to display an operator’s licence disc. The disc intended for use on this school bus service had been previously used in another vehicle that morning. Someone was sent to collect the disc and deliver it to the point where the bus was waiting for the children. The children boarded the vehicle, which at this point was without a disc, but did not set off until the disc was delivered and exhibited on the windscreen. The local authority terminated the operator’s contract on the basis that it had breached its statutory duty under the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981.

The court determined that the use of a vehicle for carrying passengers was not limited to the time when the vehicle was in motion. Enforcement would be very difficult if the requirements to comply with an operator’s licence were only engaged when the vehicle was in motion. The purpose of the requirement under the Public Passenger Vehicles Act to display an operator licence disc was to enable people to be satisfied that the operator licence requirements were met. This included not only the local authority but also passengers wishing to board the bus. The fact that the driver had been instructed not to move off until the disc had been delivered and in place made no difference.

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