All minibuses are not created equal.
A mass produced minibus is great for moving 11, 14 or 16 able bodied passengers with a small amount of luggage. Anything outside of this remit a “standard” minibus will fall short. If wheelchair access is included it will be the bare minimum standard access and restraint equipment, which is only suitable for occasional light use, and may even constitute and Health & Safety risk for your staff and/or pupils. If added features for carrying luggage and equipment are included these will have minimal payload available, meaning that if the spaces are filled and a full complement of passengers are on board then the vehicle will be overweight which is not only dangerous but also illegal and a prosecutable offence.
Minibus Options have supplied minibuses to schools, colleges and universities since 1986. Over the years there have been many developments in both legislation and in the safety features provided by manufacturers. The one constant which remains is the need for a school to provide safe and cost effective mobility. To that end we will regularly recommend to a school to buy an off the shelf minibus, because for able bodied passengers this is the most cost effective option. Whenever a schools requirements fall outside the capabilities of a standard product we are pleased to provide custom specifications and offer recommendations along with the most appropriate funding options.
The specialist specifications we are most regularly commissioned to produce are: high use/high capacity wheelchair accessible vehicles; heavy duty vehicles with load carrying and towing capabilities; Utility style, water resistant and robust outward bounds vehicles.
In most cases a specialist vehicle will likely cost more than an off the shelf minibus, however, ensuring a vehicle is fit for purpose and safe for both students and staff is a clear demonstration that duty of care has been fully taken into consideration.
In addition to ensuring a vehicle is safe and capable of performing the role required, it is important to consider the logistical and legal aspects of running a minibus. Most schools will operate a vehicle on a Section 19 permit which itself requires making sure that drivers are trained and properly licensed, vehicles are regularly inspected and maintained in a roadworthy condition, drivers take appropriate breaks and your vehicle is adequately insured.
If you are responsible for buying the next minibus for your school, college or university please get in touch and let us know what you are looking for. We offer a free evaluation service and will be pleased to make recommendations on which is the most suitable product (including pointing you towards another supplier if appropriate), offer advice over possible funding options and any legal obligations to provide you with unbiased expert assistance.