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Minibus drivers to be given six months to meet driving regulations

There were calls to scrap the proposed introduction of new licensing guidelines

Minibus drivers will be permitted up to six-month extension to enable them to meet new driving regulations which came into effect on Wednesday, November 1.

There had been calls for Stormont officials to scrap the proposed introduction of new operator and driver licensing guidelines.

Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon said she still has concerns over the impact of the controversial changes on the future of community and school transport systems but that “the six-month extension is definitely a positive step”.

She added: “We remain committed to and focused on ensuring that the vital services are protected in the future.

“Sinn Féin has been in constant engagement with the Department for Infrastructure on their proposed changes to minibus licensing requirements and we welcome confirmation that those drivers who have initiated the licensing process will be allowed up to six months to obtain their documentation.

“This will come as welcome news to many service providers and users who rely heavily on community transport.

“However, concerns remain around the wider impact these changes will have on the ability of transport providers to source drivers and Sinn Féin is continuing to seek further mitigation measures to ensure services are protected.

“We believe there is a particular impact on rural communities, disabled people, schools and youth services who rely heavily on community transport services.

“We have made a strong submission to the department arguing for robust mitigation measures based on their equality obligations to protect vulnerable groups and will continue to press for suitable measures to be put in place.”

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