Guide to the testing and preparation for a private hire vehicle licence

1. Introduction

1.1. This guide has been produced to help applicants for a Private Hire vehicle licence to know about the Council's vehicle test requirements. It will assist you in preparing your vehicle for that test.

1.2. Vehicles can be tested at one of the Councils two approved vehicle testing stations.

  • Vehicles under three years old will have one inspection per year
  • Vehicles over three years old will have two inspections per year.

1.3. New licensed vehicles must be under five years old from date of registration coming on to the fleet and will not be licensed after they reach 10 years old from date of registration.

Exception to the above age policy is:

if the private hire vehicle is wheelchair accessible, the vehicle can be under seven years old from date of registration coming on to the fleet and will not be licensed after they reach 15 years old from date of registration.

All existing vehicles currently licensed in Bury will begin transitioning and must be compliant with the age policy standard by 1 April 2024.

1.4. The Greater Manchester Clean Taxi Fund will assist vehicle proprietors to upgrade their vehicles and be complaint with the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan. Further information will be sent out to the trade once the funding is available

1.5. We test your vehicle to make sure it is mechanically safe and would pass a standard class 4 MOT test. The appearance of the bodywork and paintwork should be of a high standard, free of damage and rust. The inside of the vehicle must also be of a high standard, clean and comfortable for passengers travelling in the vehicle.

1.6. Private hire vehicle do more mileage than an average car. This means that mechanical items, tyres and body work will deteriorate. It is important and expected, by the Council, that vehicle owners maintain their vehicles during the period of the licence. The Council expects vehicle owners to have their vehicle serviced at regular intervals in accordance with the vehicle manufacturers service schedule by a competent person such as a qualified and experienced vehicle mechanic. Defective components should be replaced, and all repairs carried out to a professional standard.

2. Vehicle specification

2.1. The Council will not licence any vehicle which has only two doors or which does not have enough adult seating for the total number of passengers the vehicle will be licensed to carry.

2.2. All vehicles must conform to the M1 standard (any modified vehicle at M2 standard must have an appropriate test to make sure it conforms with single vehicle type approval).

2.3. In relation to minibuses and MPV's, if the vehicle is shown other than 'Vehicle Category M1' on the DVLA Form V5 (logbook), then all passengers in the rear of the vehicle must have access to at least two doors (side or rear) without having to fold down or climb over any seats. If the V5 shows the vehicle category as MI and the vehicle appears not to have been altered from the manufacturer's original specification, then this rule is not applicable.

2.4. If the vehicle has been altered (for example a cargo carrying van has been altered and passenger seats installed) please see paragraph 4 below.

2.5. No retrofitting of engines into older vehicles will be allowed. LPG conversions will be accepted.

2.6. Where retrofit emissions technology is installed it must be approved as part of the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)

2.7. No advertising except Council approved signage on Private hire Vehicles

2.8. Window Tints: Remaining glass or rear side windows (exc. Rear window) - allow manufacturer's tint to a minimum 20% light transmission

2.9. After 1 April 2022 vehicles being first licensed will not be accepted if they have been written off in any category and will not be renewed (if previously written off). This is currently being reviewed.

2.10. No roof signs are allowed on Private Hire Vehicles

2.11. All licensed vehicles must be compliant with the current emissions standard (currently Euro 4 petrol and Euro 6 diesel) as follows:

  • For all new to licence vehicles - with immediate effect
  • For existing fleets - to begin transitioning as soon as the policy is in place and to complete transitioning by 1 April 2024 (vehicle must also be compliant with the age policy)

2.12. Vehicle Signage:

  • That all Private hire vehicles will:
    • display permanently fixed licence plates on the front and back of the vehicle
  • That all Private hire vehicles will:
    • only display stickers provided by the licensing authority (at cost) which will bear the operator's name and phone number, 'advanced bookings only', 'not insured unless pre-booked' and the licensing authority logo (the design, dimensions and placement of the stickers on the vehicle is to be determined at a future date)
    • display those stickers on both rear side doors and the back window
    • not use any magnetic stickers

2.13. Any decision regarding the implementation of the proposed 'GM approved' bonnet sticker will be delayed for a period of 2 years while more work is carried out with the trade and GMP to address the concerns raised by the trade relating to antisocial behaviour.

2.14. Existing vehicle livery standards in Bury will be retained until the new GM livery design, dimensions and placement are confirmed and procured. Before any changes, the existing livery standards will be reviewed to accommodate the GM livery. A further update report will be presented to the Licensing and Safety Committee.

3. Compliance Testing inspection

3.1. The test vehicles undergo is called a vehicle Compliance Inspection. Vehicle inspectors use the current MOT standards (see: Gov.uk - MOT inspection manual: cars and passenger vehicles) as well as the pdf icon Vehicle Test Inspection Manual (updated 12 April 2022) [4Mb].

3.2. As private hire vehicles do more mileage than normal vehicles on the road there are some items that would pass a normal Mot inspection but would not pass the Council' compliance inspection. These include for example Tyres, ball joints, bushes, where a higher standard is required. These as well as other differences are given in the manual and vehicle owners should read the manual fully so that vehicles are always in a condition where they would pass the vehicle compliance inspection at any time during the currency of the licence.

3.3. Once licensed, a vehicle must always have correctly fitted front and rear licence plates and holders (as specified by the Council). These must be on the vehicle when it goes for test. Inside the vehicle passenger compartment, mandatory 'No Smoking' signage and the Council issued window signage must be on display. If any of the signage has been lost or damaged, replacements must be obtained from the Licensing Office before the vehicle goes for its compliance test.

4. Additional requirements for modified vehicles

4.1. Where a vehicle appears to have been converted from the original manufacturer's specification and the Vehicle Registration document does not show it as a passenger carrying minibus / taxi but for example as a cargo carrying panelled van, then the vehicle must go to VOSA (see: Gov.uk - Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) test centre locations) for Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) at the owners expense. It must then undergo the normal compliance inspection at the councils approved testing station(s).

4.2. VOSA will expect the owner to provide a 'Certificate of Conformity' supplied by the company which carried out the conversion stating that any additional seats / seat belts and their anchorages where to M1 pull standard and that they were fitted in accordance with the appropriate manufacturer's specifications. VOSA would then inspect the vehicle to ensure that the flooring / fixings comply with current regulations.

4.3. In addition to the above, the following is the Council requirements in relation to modified vehicles:

4.4. Modified minibuses / PSV's - Vehicles which are described other than category 'M1' on the DVLA Form V5 (Logbook), must enable passengers seated behind the driver to have access to at least 2 doors (side or rear opening) without having to climb over or fold down any seats. If the vehicle is to carry a wheelchair refer to paragraph 6 below.

4.5. Manufacturer's original glass should already satisfy the above (2.13 refers) requirements in respect of the glass to the front windscreen and the front doors, provided that this glass has not had any laminating film or secondary treatment applied. However, such glass fitted elsewhere on the vehicle may not meet the above criteria and will have to be replaced.

a. All retrofitted seatbelts must meet MOT installation and condition standards.

b. The passenger interior floor area must be of a flat, non-slip, non-trip surface. Where wheelchair tracking is fitted, the Council recommends the fitting of blanking strips.

c. Partitioned rear passenger compartments must be heated with a variable control heater that is linked to the main vehicle heating system. All exposed piping and wiring must be secure and adequately insulated. Water leaks are unacceptable.

d. No interior surface within the passenger compartment shall contain sharp edges likely to cause injury.

e. All interior trim must match and be fitted to a professional standard. Evidence of obvious work or modification should not be on view.

f. All modified seats fitted must be of a matching type. On the initial inspection, seats must not be fitted with removable seat covers

g. All vehicles must be fitted with safety glass containing an approved marking to this effect. Any partition fitted with safety glazing (plastic) must be of a suitable material (for example shatter proof).

h. Rear compartment entrance/exit areas must be adequately illuminated at floor and at higher levels. The lighting must operate automatically when each rear passenger door is opened.

i. All passenger doors must be capable of being kept in the open position.

j. Each rear passenger door opening must have at least one grab handle to assist passengers entering and exiting the vehicle. Each handle(s) must be securely fixed using a substantial mounting(s) such as machine screws that can hold a reasonable force.

k. Each rear passenger compartment must contain at least two windows that can be opened from the interior for ventilation purposes.

l. The Council recommends that all rear facing seats are fitted with a head restraint/cushion to reduce injury in the event of a collision.

m. The maximum height from the road surface to the passenger floor should be no more than 420mm at any point. Vehicles exceeding this figure must have some form of step incorporated into the bodywork. (This may be of a retracting or folding type).

5. Wheelchair accessible vehicles

5.1. If you intend on carrying passengers in wheelchairs, the rear compartment entrance/exit doors must be of a suitable size to allow access for a wheelchair.

5.2. Where a vehicle is fitted with a tail lift, a 'LOLER Certificate' must be obtained prior to the vehicle inspection at Bradley Fold and produced to the vehicle examiner for inspection.

5.3. There must be enough room in the rear of the vehicle for a wheelchair to turn around and be positioned correctly facing to the rear.

5.4. The vehicle must be capable of properly securing a wheelchair to the vehicle floor using a suitable type of clamp or restraint.

5.5. Correct wheelchair restraint(s) must be always in each vehicle. These must be presented at the vehicle compliance test. The person who brings the vehicle for test must be able to show the vehicle inspector that they know how to use the restraints to secure a wheelchair correctly and safely in the rear of the vehicle.

5.6. Wheelchair ramps must be capable of being securely fixed to the vehicle during use. They must be of a type and length allowing safe and easy use by the person loading the wheelchair.

5.7. Wheelchair ramps must be safely and securely stored in a suitable area of the vehicle when they are not in use.

5.8. Seat belts must be fitted to restrain wheelchair occupants. A single seatbelt must not be used to restrain both the wheelchair and occupant.


Remember that:

Prior
Planning and
Preparation
Prevents
Poor
Performance

Have your vehicle serviced regularly by a competent, qualified, and insured vehicle mechanic who has all the appropriate equipment at his disposal to professionally check and service your vehicle.