Deal or No Deal

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Our coaching insider has two key dates on his mind and the impact they could have on where he can take his vehicles

The start of the ULEZ in London is just one date of two that our coaching insider feels could mark profound change for the industry. ANDY IZATT

The continued saga of Brexit and the current furore it has created just adds to the confusion about what we can and cannot do, as coach operators. Dates for your diary if you don’t already have them – 29 March 2019 for Brexit, but don’t forget there is also 8 April 2019 for the introduction of the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) in London. [wlm_nonmember][…]

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[/wlm_nonmember] [wlm_ismember]

Late in September the DfT (Department for Transport) sent out a document on the ‘what if you are a coach operator and you want to take your coach abroad, and there is no deal done on terms of leaving the EU satisfactorily’ which provided guidance on what we cannot do. For example, your drivers may need International Driving Permits again and their licences may not be recognised or exchangeable if they decide to stay abroad.

The document states: The DfT has published six technical notice documents setting out the plans it will put in place in the unlikely situation the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Lorry, coach and bus drivers and operators should read the technical notices for: vehicle insurance in the EU if there’s no EU exit deal, commercial road haulage in the EU if there’s no EU exit deal, operating bus and coach services abroad if there’s no EU exit deal.

Recommended by the Government is that hauliers may want to take steps to prepare for future permitting and trailer registration requirements, and that drivers should ensure they have the right documentation. The Government remains confident of a deep and special partnership with the EU following exit and a mutually advantageous deal with the EU continues to be the most likely outcome.

When we needed to have International Driving Permits to travel into Europe, it was recommended that coach drivers had the small grey booklet, with their photo and entitlements rubber stamped in each section. They advised the AA or the RAC which category they required, it cost about a fiver and was supposed to keep the gendarmerie at bay.

Now you can go again to the RAC or the likes for a new International Driving Permit, but there is strict criteria attached to the application. It’s valid for a maximum one year, the holder must be at least 18 years old to apply and have a full driving licence, and the application can’t be made more than three months prior to travel.

Most countries require the 1949 Convention IDP, but some require the 1926 Convention IDP. Make sure you have the correct IDPs for all the countries you are intending to visit. An IDP will cover you for tourism purposes, but if you are taking up residence or planning to drive for employment purposes you will need to find out about your personal circumstances before relying on one. If you remain unsure, it is probably best to consider applying for an IDP as a precautionary measure.

This is as clear as all the other statements being issued, or not as the case may be, on the ongoing and unresolved matter of retrofitting coaches to meet Euro VI in London. The Mayor of London wants clean air, but is not doing a thing for operators trying hard to be compliant. There are emissions companies ringing on a daily basis to sell their wares. Unfortunately the sales staff have no knowledge of the requirement and it has still not been rubber stamped by the mayors’ office. This is a disgrace. Is this just a legal means to fine non-compliant operators because of Greater London Authority/Transport for London’s own inefficiencies?

Remember non compliant coaches will attract these charges from 8 April 2019: The daily charge for coaches and buses that do not meet the ULEZ standards at £100. The daily charge runs from 00:01-midnight each day and the charge is in addition to the existing weekday Congestion Charge of £200.

So there we are. We might not be able to take our coaches abroad after the 29 March 2019 because of all the complications involved, and 10 days later, we may not be able to take our coaches into London without receiving a fine for enforced non-compliance. I am quite sure, taking the theme of Noel Edmonds programme as a cue, we really are facing a deal, or more accurately no deal when it comes to running coaches.