There comes a time when the convenience of on site, reliable, group transport will inevitably lead to the search for a ‘School Minibus’ of your own. Thousands of schools across the UK already benefit from access to their own school transport. Ford and Peugeot minibuses have for several years dominated the UK school market and the recent introduction of the Peugeot Legaro 9 – 14 seat minibus and the new style, 9 seat Ford Tourneo Custom are both exciting precursors to the launch of the new Transit Minibus in the Spring of 2014. However many of the major manufacturers offer a good choice of minibus options, all with three year warranties as standard and are worth investigation when considering your purchase. The introduction of finance and contract hire plans has allowed budgets to be managed more easily and involve less of a need for fund raising and support activities prior to a large capital outlay. But before you start your quest there are some questions you need to consider and perhaps more importantly answers you need to know before you buy.
What is the best minibus to buy?
There is plenty of choice for the buyer but the answer is a little easier. Choose the minibus that is within your budget and best meets the needs of your school. Assess your transport requirements for today as well as in the future when considering your purchase. Seek advice from specialist independent minibus suppliers. They often offer the most flexible solutions providing tailor made minibuses for schools. They can also provide practical and impartial advice on the best size, type and manufacturer for your particular requirements.
Who will be able to drive the minibus?
New driving licence rules came into force on 19th January 2013. Any person with a current driving licence showing a D1 category can, subject to insurance, drive a minibus with up to 16 passengers. Current licence holders showing B category can only drive a minibus up to 3,500kg in weight and must be over 21 and have had their driving licence for a minimum of 2 years. However, new licence holders passing their test after 19th January 2013 will only be allowed to drive a vehicle with up to 8 passenger seats and the vehicle must not weigh more than 3,500kg.
Will you require mobility access?
For many schools occasional wheelchair/mobility access will be part of their buying criteria. Specialist suppliers can offer custom build solutions; finished in colours and livery of your specification. These new minibuses may even have the option of removable seating depending on the supplier. Allowing even greater flexibility, providing wheelchair space or additional luggage areas as and when required
New or Used minibus?
If a new minibus is out of the budget then a used vehicle may be the only option. However, they can be exceptionally good value. Specialist school minibus suppliers often contract their minibuses to schools and at the end of the plan will take back the vehicle into stock. These vehicles often have low mileage and full service histories with the supplier. The minibuses are then fully refurbished prior to sale and normally offered with 12-warranty. Some suppliers will even transport the vehicles for demonstration on site if required.
When is a minibus not a minibus?
October 2011 saw the introduction of new European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA) regulation for all new minibuses. Today all new minibuses require a Type Approved Certificate issued by the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA). Any manufacturer, specialist supplier or conversion company should furnish you with the relevant certification details on request, prior to purchase. The new regulation has brought minibus construction in line with similar standards to that of cars putting passenger safety and component compliance at the forefront of construction. A minibus without a certificate of approval and compliance could go undetected until presented for its first Class 5 MOT test, one year after registration or worse, after an accident, which could affect any claim you may make with your insurance company.
What is the best way to finance the school minibus?
To assist with your purchase there are now available a wide choice of financial options to choose from including Lease and Purchase Plans as well as outright purchase. Contract Hire is a popular choice for many schools, allowing a fixed monthly rental to be set aside and with the exception of fuel and insurance, no additional costs are required. Depending on your supplier your minibus will normally be maintained and serviced by them for the period of the plan providing extra peace of mind.
Where is a good place to start?
For further information or to arrange a demonstration call Red Kite Vehicle Consultants Limited on 01202 827678 or visit www.redkite-minibuses.com and see what some of our customers are saying about the UK’s leading school minibus supplier.