Last night the Senior Traffic Commissioner issued a Statutory Document to provide a temporary update to Statutory Documents No, 2, 3, 4, 9 & 14 in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. It is clear there will be challenges ahead within the sector, and this document seeks to support the industry through flexible working practices and a proportionate approach in the circumstances.
Included within the document:
- temporary steps to assist operators who cannot meet the required financial standing levels;
- advice on what an operator must consider if a transport manager is unable to attend work;
- clear guidance on the period of grace process if the requirements to hold an operator’s licence cannot be met;
- information around how the traffic commissioners may approach applications for temporary exemptions to the requirement to hold an operator’s licence;
- guidance on the approach to be adopted for short notice requests around changes to local bus services and reducing the administrative burden on operators;
- guidance on hearing attendance and the postponement of hearings.
To summarise some of those changes:
Operating Centre – Where a standard operator temporarily loses access to an Operating Centre as a result of restrictions imposed during the outbreak, traffic commissioners should give serious consideration to the grant of a Period of Grace. The Senior Traffic Commissioner has set a starting point of 4 months Period of Grace for qualifying operators.
Financial Standing – A traffic commissioner would normally require tangible evidence to show that financial standing can be met in the future but, given the exceptional and short-term circumstances, the Senior Traffic Commissioner has directed that a traffic commissioner may rely on a previous satisfactory financial check which meets the new prescribed sum, within the last 12 months, as evidence to support the granting of a Period of Grace.
A traffic commissioner may also accept internet or copy documents, with a check of original documents to be made at a later date.
The Traffic Commissioner has set a starting point of 4 months Period of Grace for qualifying operators. That starting point is intended to allow for an extension to the maximum period of 6 months should circumstances require that.
Professional Competence – Traffic commissioners would not normally expect to be notified of periods of short illness. Where a person develops more acute symptoms, it may be necessary to grant a Period of Grace. Recognising the additional challenges of recruitment during the period of the outbreak, the Senior Traffic Commissioner has set a starting point of 4 months Period of Grace for qualifying operators. That starting point is intended to allow for an extension to the maximum period of 6 months should circumstances require that.
The document also deals with interim licences, temporary exemptions, bus registrations and community passenger transport.
In relation to attendance at hearings, priority will be given to those that involve any serious concerns regarding the safety of the transport operation, cases of serious non-compliance and applications for interim authority or PSV applications (where an interim authority is not available), or an application by an Administrator to continue an operation. The way hearings will be held will have to adapt a change with the latest guidance issued.
As always communication is key and if you have any concerns during this period that you may not be able to meet the requirements of the licencing regime, please do get in touch for us to assist you. As always, road safety remains a key priority to the Traffic Commissioner, but there is also a need to provide flexibility to operators at this time. It remains now, more than ever, so important to keep you on the roads.
The document can be read in full here.
Please contact a member of our Transport team at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any concerns.