Universities and Colleges - transport for students

This note is a reminder of the s.19 Transport Act eligibility criteria and the legal requirements for providing passenger services with these…

Check you are complying with the terms of your section 19 Transport Act 1985 permit or Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence

Your institution may hold a vehicle permit under s.19 Transport Act (s.19 TA) to cover transport services to students.  This note is a reminder to educational establishments of the s.19 TA eligibility criteria and the legal requirements for providing passenger services with these permits.  This is not an exhaustive note of the requirements.  Please contact a member of our team to discuss any queries.

Eligibility - s.19 TA permit

The rules on direct and indirect charging mean you are likely to be deemed as operating on a ‘hire or reward’ basis even if no fare is charged for the journey.  A full PSV operator’s licence is required or a s.19 TA permit.  Permits are available to educational institutions operating on a ‘not for profit’ basis.

The educational establishment will be deemed to have charged  the passenger for the transport where:

  • the cost of a journey on an educational establishment’s vehicle is covered by other charges, for example: student fees for tuition and educational services; a journey made under a membership or subscription; a charge for linked services such as entry to an event or as part of an excursion; or,
  • the passenger would not have made the journey save for their membership/student status.

The s.19 TA permit gives restricted exemptions to the more onerous requirements of the PSV operator licence such as the need for a professional transport manager managing the vehicles (with a Certificate of Professional Competence)

Requirements - s.19 TA permit

The permit is an exemption to the requirement to hold a full PSV.  However, failure to comply with the requirements risks criminal prosecution, regulatory action by the Traffic Commissioner, health and safety prosecution and/or invalidating the insurance cover.  Consider the current practices against the following conditions:


  • Check your heath and safety policy and risk assessment practices;
  • Check that your drivers are complying with the driving at work policy, are suitably trained and correctly licensed;
  • Check drivers’ licences do not contain a restriction code (for example, entitling them to drive a community bus);
  • Check they have the standard minibus licence entitlement;
  • Check whether drivers are exempt from Drivers Licence Regulations.


  • Check compliance with the compulsory Maintenance Regulations requiring all vehicles have regular maintenance inspections;
  • Check vehicles are inspected regularly - it is advisable to carry out a walk around check every time the vehicle is used;
  • Check the correct permit is displayed in the vehicle at the time the vehicle is being used for activities within the permit (you can apply for more than one permit);
  • Vehicles must satisfy the appropriate ‘construction and use’ requirements and be maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition; check that they do;
  • Check the operation of the vehicle is not with a view to profit, nor incidental to an activity which is itself carried on with a view to profit.

Health and Safety

  • Ensure the risk assessment process is being applied.  Under health and safety legislation an employer should have in place suitable and sufficient risk assessments which identify the risks to people (staff and others) who may be affected by their work activities. The risk assessments  should result in appropriate control measures being identified and implemented. This applies as much to driving activities as any other aspect of the business;
  • Check the drivers’ working hours are monitored to comply with Working Time Regulations – monitoring can be particularly difficult where driving is done infrequently or the employee has a high degree of autonomy in their role on working hours and practices;
  • Ensure all drivers are aware of the risk to passenger safety from driving when tired. It is not sensible to start a long trip after a full day’s work, whether that work involves driving or not;
  • Check adequate breaks are built into journey planning – drivers should aim to have a break from driving of at least 15 minutes every 2 hours.  If driving under EU rules a break of at least 45 minutes after 4.5 hours of driving is required. A break of at least 30 minutes is required after 5.5 hours of driving, if driving under domestic drivers’ hours rules;
  • Ensure vehicles are fit for purpose – for example, appropriate seat belts fitted, there is a suitable first aid kit in place;
  • Ensure emergency procedures are in place in the event of breakdowns, illness and accidents;
  • Check the driver training programme includes safety awareness, emergency procedures and first aid.

Insurance requirements

  • Remember a failure to comply with the permit or licence requirements can invalidate the insurance cover;
  • Ensure your educational establishment tells the insurer that it will be receiving payments from passengers (operating for “hire or reward”), but is exempt from the requirement to have a PSV operator’s licence or a PHV licence because the vehicles operate under a permit;
  • Check with the insurer that the policy covers the services being provided.

Licence requirements

  • Ensure vehicles carry only the class(es) of passengers allowed by the permit and do not provide any transport services that could viewed to be carrying the general public;
  • Inform the DVSA or the designated body that issued the permit of any material changes, such as the change of name of the organisation, as this means that the permit needs to be replaced.

Discussion with our team

This note is a reminder to educational establishments of some key elements of s.19 TA and reflects the law as at 1 February 2016.  If you would like to discuss a compliance or transport licensing please contact members of the team who will be available to discuss this with you and provide further information.  The team undertakes compliance reviews to reassure clients on regulatory matters and would be pleased to discuss any questions.

Please contact

  • Gary Hodgson, National Head of Transport Regulation on 0113 213 4064 or email gary.hodgson@weightmans.com
  • Euros Jones, Partner: Regulatory Services Unit on 0207 8221928 or email euros.jones@weightmans.com
  • Susan Matthews, Associate: Education on 0113 243 6601 or email susan.matthews@weightmans.com

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