Are you thinking about upgrading your taxi to a minibus?

 

There are many reasons why you might be considering this. Maybe you simply fancy a change from a standard car, you wish to explore new avenues, or you like the idea of transporting more passengers or larger groups on a daily basis.

 

Of course, it may also be that you’re looking to make more money. While this isn’t guaranteed – and you must bear in mind that running costs are likely to be higher – you could increase your earnings by switching to a minibus, simply because you can fit more passengers in!

 

With any business move, it needs to be properly planned. So, we thought we’d help by creating this handy guide of five things to consider if you’re upgrading your modest taxi to a larger minibus.

 

 

  1. Get the right insurance

 

Taxi cars and minibuses are two completely different vehicles, and they must be insured as such.

 

Taxi Insurer are specialists in this field; whether you plan to use your minibus for personal use, private or public hire, we can set you up with a minibus insurance policy that reflects your unique needs.

 

So long as you’re over 25 and will be driving a nine to 16-seater plus minibus, we can search our panel of specialist insurers to find the best deal, for the best price.

 

We can find policies that cover a wide range of uses, including private occasional use or frequent use, or use for groups and organisations including schools, charities, churches, sporting clubs and scout groups.

 

Even if you believe that you don’t fall into one of the categories listed above, we still might be able to help. Simply call on our specialist team members to discuss your unique requirements and we’ll see what we can do.

 

A minibus parked at a stop on a high street

 

  1. Get the right permit and/or licences

 

The situation with regard to whether or not you need a minibus permit and/or licence can be a little tricky. In a nutshell, you will need to apply for these if you plan on using the minibus for so-called ‘hire and reward’.

 

If you’re switching from a taxi to a minibus, chances are you’re going to use that minibus to transport passengers and will be charging them for your service. In other words, you will be driving the minibus commercially. In this case you will need the following:

 

 

Things are different if you’re going to be driving for an organisation and you only plan to charge running costs. You’ll need a permit for this – to get it you must complete an application form and send it to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

 

Then there’s the small matter of what you can legally drive, which has to do with the D1 entitlement and the date you passed your test. You can find all the information you need about this in our previous blog post.

 

 

  1. Get to grips with minibus driving

 

Now, if this is your first time driving a vehicle as large as a minibus, it’s important that you get to grips with driving it before welcoming passengers on board. When you’re confident enough to take to the road, here are some things that you should bear in mind:

 

  • Braking distances will be greater with the added weight, so adjust your speed and distance between vehicles accordingly when on the road.
  • Handling a minibus in adverse weather can be incredibly tricky. In very poor conditions only drive if absolutely necessary.
  • Consider the height of your minivan – you must factor this in when planning routes as barriers and low bridges may prevent you passing. Underground or multi-storey car parks may pose an issue, too.
  • Minibuses may be powerful, but acceleration is not a strong point. It can be risky if you try to overtake another vehicle as it’ll take longer to carry out the manoeuvre.

 

Check out our ‘Top tips for driving a minibus’ blog for more useful advice on safely driving your new vehicle.

 

A person driving a car with their hands at ten and two on the steering wheel

 

  1. Be aware of different speed limits

 

Did you know that speed limits for minibuses are different than limits for cars on certain types of roads? The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) lists what these speed limits are:

 

  • Built-up roads – 30 mph (unless signed otherwise)
  • Single carriageways – 50 mph (unless signed otherwise)
  • Dual carriageways – 60 mph (unless signed otherwise)
  • Motorways – 70 mph (unless signed otherwise)
  • Motorways – 60 mph (if the minibus is longer than 12 metres)

 

It’s important you know these as you don’t want to be caught unintentionally speeding. You could receive a fine or penalty points on your licence, and the price you pay for minibus insurance might go up as a result.

 

 

  1. Add to your checklist

 

Car or minibus, there are a wealth of checks you need to carry out to ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive, like checking oil, coolant and brake fluid levels, making sure all of the lights are working and that there’s adequate tread in all of the tyres.

 

However, there are some additional checks you need to carry out before you set off in your minibus. Here they are, as listed by RoSPA:

 

  • All access doors open and close properly (i.e. the sliding passenger door or rear access door for wheelchair users)
  • If applicable, the trailer brake lights and indicators work
  • If applicable, the lift works and is securely stowed
  • If applicable, the ramp works safely and is securely stowed
  • The roof rack and/or trailer is sufficiently fitted and all luggage securely held
  • All seats are secure and fixed and all seat belts are undamaged and working
  • Location of jack and wheel brace
  • Location and contents of first aid kit and fire extinguisher(s)
  • You have change just in case you need it for parking or to use a telephone
  • Luggage is securely stowed
  • Exits and aisles are clear
  • Emergency equipment packed, such as torch, warning triangle, high-vis jacket and webbing cutter
  • Equipment available for wheelchair users (such as chair tie-downs, harnesses and passenger safety belts

 

Don’t forget, if you’re looking for competitively-priced cover with a range of policy benefits, take out minibus insurance from Taxi Insurer. Get a quote today.

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