New private hire licence for school trips

Blaby District Council is introducing a pioneering new school-trip only private hire licence to help meet rising demand for school transport services.

The licence allows private hire drivers to carry out dedicated school run journeys as part of a contract with Leicestershire County Council, the LEA (local education authority). This is the first licence of its kind in Leicestershire and Blaby District Council is one of only around 30 or so licensing authorities out of 267 in the country to offer this option.

Like many LEAs the County is struggling to fulfil its obligations for school transport services, which mainly cater for SEN children. It is hoped this tailored licence will encourage people to sign up. They would not carry out any other ‘taxi’ services and unlike a full private hire licence the new licence has no requirement for the driver to take a Council test.

Applicants still need to pass ‘fit and proper person’ criteria, including meeting standards on driving ability, safeguarding, medical fitness and DBS checks.  

Leicestershire County Council is fully behind the scheme as it has seen a 45% growth in demand for home-to-school transport over the last five years. This is expected to continue to increase by around 6% each year based on current trends. More than 50% of the current demand is met by the external taxi market and there is a genuine recognition of the need to work more closely with the market to support sustainable delivery of services.

Like many authorities, Leicestershire has experienced a significant decline in the number of licensed drivers and in some cases this has led to school transport contracts being handed back due to lack of available drivers.

Existing private hire operators are also behind the licence which due to its restricted nature is quicker and cheaper to apply for.