Fears new bus rules could put drivers off the road

Mini bus

Fermanagh Community Transport buses RMG81

PROPOSED rule changes regarding minibus drivers could impact on hundreds if not thousands of people here in Fermanagh, with some services even being put at risk.
Schools, youth groups, church organisation and sports clubs could all be affected by a reinterpretation of licensing laws. That’s according to the head of Fermanagh Community Transport (FCT), Anita Flanagan, who provide a vital service to those living in rural areas in the county and could also be significantly impacted.
The new interpretation, that could come in as early as November 1, will impose greater restrictions on drivers, meaning any driver who gets paid in any way to drive in any way will need to a full minibus licence and Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), or else they face a driving ban.
Speaking ahead of a massive public meeting on the issue held in Lisburn yesterday, Ms Flanagan said the changes could have wide reaching implications.
 “In relation to driver licensing, it’s going to have a bigger impact on more than just Fermanagh Community Transport. Any organisation in Fermanagh who has a minibus or who has drivers who drive minibuses,” she said.
“For example, a teacher, they get paid to teach but if they take pupils out for a trip or out to a match or something then they’re getting paid for driving, although they’re not really, they’re going to need the full Driver CPC.”
Ms Flanagan, who urged all drivers to be aware of the changes, added all FCT’s paid drivers were fully licensed, however they could be affected in other ways.
“As well as our own paid drivers we provide services for community groups. We have community groups who provide their own drivers.
“Some of those drivers may receive payment that’s incidental to driving, they may have a local football group whose coach gets £50 a week coaching the team, and may take them to a match every couple of weeks and drive our bus. We’ll not be able to let them to drive the bus because, again, they’re another driver who will be affected by the change.”

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