Understanding the Public Service Vehicles (Accessible Information) Regulations 2023 

February, 2024 - Shoosmiths LLP

The Public Service Vehicles (Accessible Information) Regulations 2023 (the “Regulations”) implement certain basic informational requirements that bus operators of local services need to implement in their vehicles in order to improve the accessibility of information for passengers on local bus services. 

These Regulations apply to a ‘local service’ using a public service vehicle, meaning a public carriage service by road which covers a route of less than 15 miles total from where a passenger can be picked up to where they are set down.

There are a range of services to which the Regulations do not apply, including small buses (designed to carry less than 17 passengers); school buses providing a closed door home to school service and long-distance services (where every passenger is effectively travelling 15 miles or more, e.g., long distance coaches). 

The Regulations came into force on 1 October 2023, with a phased implementation period particularly for older buses and vehicles which are already partially compliant. The key implementation period deadlines are: 

  • For buses first in use from 1 October 2019 – and for any new community bus service – the Regulations apply from 1 October 2024. 
  • For buses first in use from 1 October 2014 (and before 30 September 2019), the Regulations apply from 1 October 2025. 
  • For buses first in use from 1 January 1973 (and before 30 September 2014), the Regulations apply from 1 October 2026. 
  • There is an extended implementation period of 1 October 2031 to reach full compliance with all the information requirements for vehicles which are deemed ‘partially compliant’ as of 1 October 2023. 

Operators of a relevant local service have to provide certain required information to passengers at certain times while in operation. Information must be provided in both audio and visual form, in a way that is ‘consistent with one another’. The operator cannot force customers to use a personal device (i.e., a phone or computer) to get the information. In other words, they have to be built into the bus itself. 

The Regulations are ultimately enforced by the Traffic Commissioner (under the Bus Services Act 2017). The Traffic Commissioner has powers to investigate alleged non-compliance, and may put conditions on operator licences or suspend or revoke such licences. 

The Regulations are not on their own however as there are numerous requirements in place to support accessibility requirements in relation to public transport services, namely:

With growing travel uptake in recent statistics, local bus travel in England rose by 19.3%, or 0.5 billion, to 3.4 billion passenger journeys, further evidencing that accessibility to public transport for all is of key importance and all operators should understand their obligations. 

With regards to these new obligations, we would urge all bus operators or supplies into bus services to understand the requirements that are imposed by the Regulations and to ensure compliance to avoid any penalties. This will apply not only to new arrangements but also existing ones, where it is perhaps not clear who bears the cost of any changes that are required to vehicles or the services that support them. 

If you have any questions or concerns about the Regulations and how they may impact your business, please do not hesitate to contact our team for further assistance.


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