Frequently Asked Questions

I often get asked the same questions at bus rallies and the like.......in fact I used to ask these questions too......so I’ve produced this page as I know it will be useful to anyone that visits this website!!

Driving Licence
Vehicle Tax
Drivers Hours - GB Domestic
Drivers Hours - EU Rules
Free Bus Services
Bus Lanes
London Low Emission Zone
London Congestion Charge
Dartford River Crossing


FAQ's blank box

This can actually be the biggest headache when it comes to bus preservation, unless you have a big drive or accessible garden...... and very understanding neighbours!! That's why I've put this subject at the top of the list.

I cannot emphasise this enough.......before you buy any vehicle make sure you have somewhere to keep it - do not ever be blasé about this!! And if you are lucky enough to find somewhere, you should also find a back up - vehicle storage tends to be on a month by month basis, so you should always be working on Four weeks notice. Trust me on this one as I've nearly been bitten.

Be under no illusion about that last paragraph. I'll emphasise it again.......before you buy any vehicle make sure you have somewhere to keep it. And if you are lucky enough to find somewhere, you should also find a back up.

Naturally undercover storage is always desirable, but count yourself lucky if you have to settle with outside storage. Power & water on site are very desirable, but you should be prepared to settle for having neither. The single most desirable aspect for me is security. After all, what good are power & water if your pride & joy is vandalised, or worse, stolen?!!

Now in case you haven't taken the hint yet, finding a suitable place to keep your vehicle isn't the easiest task in the world. And it will cost you too!! Ideal places tend to be farmers Barns or bus company yards. In both cases though you will more than likely find that neither are particularly accommodating - after all they have a business to run and space is often at a premium. And before you get any bright ideas, bus company mechanics are the biggest bodge artists I know.

You may have more luck with a transport museum, but again space is already likely to be at a premium. Industrial estates may have suitable plots, but don't bank on it.

If you take on somewhere independently, make sure you don't fall foul of planning Laws and check out whether you are liable for any taxes - local council red tape should not be underestimated.

If after all that you do manage to find a place to store your pride & joy, you should expect to pay anything from £50 to £100 per month.....possibly more.

Driving Licence

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The most 'abused' claim - often accompanying eBay adverts - is that anyone can drive a bus on a car licence. Whilst in many cases it might be true, more often than not it isn't.

One particular claim I have seen recently is that a vehicle taxed as PLG enables you to drive it on a car licence. That is totally incorrect - the taxation class has no bearing on driving licence requirements nor the actual type of vehicle - its still a bus!! The taxation class is simply a means to an end for tax collection purposes and reflects whether or not your vehicle is used for Hire & Reward. Vehicle tax is covered in more detail further down the page (HERE).

I have created the table below to try and assist you in deciding whether your driving licence covers the type of bus or coach you are driving [or plan to drive].

**It is important to note that the table below is my interpretation of the Law. Your interpretation may be different and you should seek professional advice if you are unsure**


A driver CPC is required, in addition to a PCV licence, to drive a vehicle for Hire & Reward purposes if PCV licence gained since 10/9/08. PCV licence holders prior to that date have "acquired rights" but must obtain a driver CPC by 9/9/13.


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You'll have no problems if you have a Category D PCV licence, but if you only have a car licence you may well come a cropper with insurance  companies - they either won't touch you (after all a PCV driver has completed special training which you won't have done), or they'll charge you a lot more money (again because you won't have completed the same training that a PCV driver has and you are therefore a higher risk).

There are a number of companies out there that offer specialist "preserved bus" insurance and it generally works out to be extremely cheap; the theory being that preserved buses are not on the road on a daily basis, and owners generally maintain their vehicles to high standards. These companies do offer "Hire & Reward cover" but do expect to pay a lot more (special Laws apply to Hire & Reward and that's covered elsewhere).

To give you an idea of the cost (do bear in mind I have a  PCV licence), full comprehensive cover is around £185 per annum and breakdown cover is around £85 per annum.

The comprehensive cover includes use on free bus services, providing the driver is over 21 years of age and has a PCV licence, and the policy excess is just £100.

There are two main players when it comes to preserved bus insurance, and they both offer relatively similar products:
Towergate and Rigton.


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There are two classes of MOT applicable to Buses & Coaches - 5 and 6.

Class 5 is for, among others, preserved Buses & Coaches. Class 5 is not  appropriate if you are using your vehicle for Hire & Reward but is appropriate if you are going to use your vehicle privately and only carry more than 8 passengers on free bus services at rallies & road running days.

Class 6 is for Buses and Coaches that are used for Hire & Reward.

The cost is generally the same for either test, however the class 6 test is slightly more stringent and will include elements not covered in the class 5 test, such as seat mountings, operators licence disc and full  legal lettering.

As an aside, it should be noted that a certificate of initial fitness (or modern equivalent) is also required for class 6 vehicles.

One lesson I learned early on was to make sure your chosen MOT station can accommodate your vehicle. There are plenty of test stations out there that say they do test class 5 vehicles, however the vast majority of them can only physically cater for motor caravans and ambulance's. Suitable Class 5 test stations tend to be ones that also do class 7 & LGV's, so they're the ones you should be looking to use. Make sure you check out their  facilities and ensure they can handle your vehicle - especially if it's a long Coach or a double decker!!

Vehicle Tax

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At the time of writing (March 2012), the cost for vehicles taxed as buses:

Without a pollution reduction certificate:                                                                 With a pollution reduction certificate:

No. of seats

6 Months

12 Months

10 - 17



18 - 36



37 - 61






6 Months

12 Months



Given that most preserved buses won't have a pollution reduction certificate, you can see from the table on the left that double deckers can be quite expensive to tax.

Now the bus tax class applies to vehicles that are class 6 MOT'd and are thus able to work for Hire & Reward - if your preserved bus is only class 5 MOT'd and doesn't earn its keep by being used for Hire & Reward, you may have the option to tax it as PLG (Private Light Goods) like a car, or as a private HGV.

My understanding is that if a vehicle was first registered before 1st March 2001, you can have the taxation class changed to PLG and pay the same rate as a large car. At the time of writing (March 2012) that's £123.75 for Six months or £225 for Twelve months - quite a saving if your vehicle has 37 or more seats.

It's gets better if your vehicle was first registered after 31st March 2001. Again its my interpretation but it appears that for taxation purposes, preserved buses over 3½  tonnes (which most are) can have their taxation class changed to 'Private HGV'. The cost (at May 2012) is £90.75 for Six months and £165 for Twelve months.

**It should be noted that the taxation class has no bearing on driving licence requirements nor the actual type of vehicle - its still a bus!! The taxation class is simply a means to an end for tax collection purposes and reflects whether or not your vehicle is used for Hire & Reward**


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This is a very hot potato!!

Tachographs are usually required when drivers undertake work within the scope of "EU rules". That usually means non scheduled work, or scheduled work that has no duty card/timetable/fare chart on the vehicle or where the journey is over 50km in length.

As I understand it, the law looks like this:

Vehicle built before 1947: No Tachograph required.

Vehicle built after 1947 & more than 25 years old: No Tachograph required if:

1) carrying less than 9 passengers including driver, not used for hire or reward, and travelling to or from museums, rallies or other places where the vehicle is to be displayed, or travelling to or from the vehicle's place of maintenance or repair.


2) less than 18 seats (including driver) and not used for hire or reward

Less than 25 years old: No Tachograph required if less than 18 seats (including driver) and not used for hire or reward.

As can be seen above, the implication is that vehicles with 19 or more seats fitted and less than 25 years old must have a Tachograph fitted no matter what they're being used for. It doesn't seem to matter if you are using your vehicle privately, for Hire & Reward, or just taking it for MOT. You can only remove the Tachograph once the vehicle reaches 25 years of age.

Now there is an argument that the European Commission has recognised that preserved vehicles are outside the scope of Tachograph legislation and are therefore except, however I have seen references that say the UK has opted out of this exemption!

I  have a suspicion that if you were to ask a Police or VOSA officer, you  will get a different response based upon their personal interpretation of the Law.

I have dealt with free bus services in separately (HERE).

**Given the above information, I will insist that this subject is open to  personal interpretation and I will not be held responsible for any resulting legal issues that you may experience as a result of the information I have provided here**

Drivers Hours - GB Domestic

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The GB domestic rules as contained in the Transport Act 1968, apply to most PCV vehicles that are exempt from the EU rules. Separate rules apply to Northern Ireland.

**LGV & other commercial vehicles are outside the scope of this guide**

In essence, you'll be driving under GB domestic hours providing:

You are driving on a registered scheduled service
Your route is no more than 50km in length
You are in possession of a duty card or timetable

Driving is defined as being at the controls of a vehicle for the purposes of controlling its movement whether it is moving or stationary, with the engine running, even for a short period of time.


A day is the 24 hour period beginning at the start of a work duty.

Daily Driving

In any working day the maximum driving time is 10 hours. The daily limit  applies to time spent at the wheel, actually driving, and includes any  driving done under EU rules.

Length of the working day (Spreadover)

A driver should work no more than 16 hours between the start & finish times of their work duty, including other work or off-duty periods during the working day.

Breaks & Continuous driving

After 5½ hours driving, a break of at least 30 minutes must be taken, during which the driver can obtain rest & refreshment.

Alternatively, within any period of 8½ hours of the working day, total breaks amounting to at least 45 minutes must be taken so that the driver does not exceed 7¾ hours driving. In addition the driver must have 30 minutes rest or refreshment at the end of this period, unless it is the end of the working day.

Daily rest periods

A continuous rest period of 10 hours must be taken between two consecutive working days. This can be reduced to 8½ hours up to three times a week.

Fortnightly rest period

In any two consecutive weeks (Monday to Sunday), there must be at least one period of 24 hours off duty.


The following exemptions apply to drivers who would otherwise be subject to GB domestic rules:

1) If they do not drive for more than 4 hours in any one week, drivers are exempt from GB domestic rules for that week.

2) If they drive for more than four hours for up to two days in one week, drivers are still exempt from GB rules but on those two days:
i) All duties must start & finish within a 24 hour period.
ii) A Ten hour rest period must be taken immediately before the first duty and immediately after the last duty; and:
iii) Rules on driving time and length of working day must be obeyed.

An exemption on GB domestic rules driving time & rest periods applies during any time spent dealing with an emergency.

**As with all things Legal, everything above is my interpretation of the Law.
If in doubt you should seek your own independent legal advice**

Drivers Hours - EU Rules

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The EU driving hours rules apply to most PCV vehicles that are outside the scope of GB domestic hours rules.

**LGV & other commercial vehicles are outside the scope of this guide**

Generally speaking, you'll be driving under EU drivers hours rules when:

Your route is more than 50km in length
Your route is not scheduled or registered

When driving under EU rules, you must use a Tachograph. If the vehicle is not fitted with a Tachograph, you must manually complete the reverse of a Tachograph disc.

Daily driving

In any working day the maximum driving time is 9 hours. The daily limit may be extended to 10 hours twice in a fixed week, and these may be on consecutive days.

Continuous driving

Maximum of 4½ hours continuous [or aggregate] driving, after which a break must be taken unless a daily or weekly rest period immediately follows.

Breaks from driving

A break from driving must last at least 45 minutes.

2 or 3 "split breaks" of at least 15 minutes may be taken but the final  part of a "split break" must follow immediately after 4½ hours of continuous [or aggregate] driving.

Daily rest periods

A continuous rest period of 11 hours must be taken between two consecutive working days. This can be reduced to 9 hours up to three times in a fixed week but must be compensated for in the following week.

Weekly driving total

This isn't specified but is effectively 56 hours (4 daily driving periods of 9 hours + 2 daily driving periods of 10 hours = 56 hours).

Fortnightly driving total

The maximum driving hours permissible in a fixed Two week period is 90 hours.

An example would be:

Week 1 - 40 hours
Week 2 - 50 hours

Therefore week 3's maximum must be 40 hours.

Weekly rest (after 6 daily driving periods)

The daily rest period should be extended to 45 hours. This may be reduced 36 hours if taken at base and 24 hours if taken away from base.

Each reduced weekly rest must be compensated by attaching the balance to another daily or weekly rest period, before the end of the following 3rd fixed week.

Double manning

For the double manning option to apply, all drivers must be in the vehicle for all  journeys during the shift. One driver having different second drivers for different periods of the shift would not count as double manning, and the double manning option would not apply. The only areas affected by double manning are the daily 45 minute break and the daily rest period.

The 45 minute break period may be taken in the vehicle whilst it is in motion.

The daily rest period may be reduced from 11 hours to 8 hours continuous rest in a 30 hour period, and can only take place on the vehicle if it is stationary and a suitable bunk is present.


Drivers may depart from EU driving regulations under certain limited conditions, such as:

A genuine emergency
An unavoidable delay that could not have reasonably been foreseen

The exemption allows for drivers to reach a suitable stopping place....not necessarily to complete their planned journey!! Any departure from EU rules must be minimised and only extend as far as necessary to ensure the safety of people, the vehicle or its passengers. All details of the reasons for the departure from EU rules must be recorded on the reverse of the tachograph at the first available opportunity.

**As with all things Legal, everything above is my interpretation of the Law.
If in doubt you should seek your own independent legal advice**

Free bus Services

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Free bus services are covered by the UK domestic hours rules because they are usually scheduled services that are less than 50km in length, therefore Tachographs are not required. As the services are free there is no requirement to carry a fare chart on the vehicle. In addition, and again because the services operated are free, the legal requirements for such services are less stringent than for an operator under the Hire & Reward system.

So the minimum legal requirements for operation on free services is:

Driver Licence: Full category D PCV licence
MOT: Class 5 MOT
Vehicle Tax: PLG
Insurance: Must have free bus service endorsement

To make the point, the minimum legal requirements for operation on fare collecting Hire & Reward services is:

Driver Licence: Full category D PCV licence with driver CPC where appropriate
Legal Lettering: Vehicle must carry full legal lettering (ie, address on side of vehicle, emergency exits, etc)
MOT: Class 6 MOT
Other vehicle document: Certificate of Initial Fitness, Certificate of Conformity or equivalent
Vehicle Tax: BUS
O Licence: Operators licence disc must be displayed in windscreen
Insurance: cover for Hire or Reward
Maintenance: Defect reporting system must be in place, with a method of recording defects present on the vehicle

Bus Lanes

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There is no special dispensation or prohibition for preserved or Buses or Coaches - they are treated just like any other Bus or Coach and thus they may use bus lanes quite legally in the UK.

Just bear in mind the following:

i) A Bus or Coach is defined as a vehicle with Nine or more seats including the driver.
ii) It does not have to be in any specific taxation class.
iii)Only 'service buses' may use bus lanes if they are specifically signed "Local Buses Only" or have the word "Local" superimposed on the symbol for a bus on a bus lane sign.
v) Only 'service buses' may use bus lanes with bus gates or rising bollards.

London Low Emission Zone

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The London Low Emission zone is broadly the area inside the M25  motorway, and covers larger vans, minibuses, lorries, buses and coaches  as well as other specialist vehicles.

The Law applicable to it is relatively straight forward; vehicles registered before 1st March 1973 are considered to be of historical interest and are automatically exempt.

Vehicles registered after 1st March 1973 and with a non Euro series engine, or a Euro 1, 2 or 3 engine without any other equipment fitted, are subject to a £200 daily charge.

At the time of writing (March 2013), vehicles built after 1st March 1973 can only be exempt if they meet at least Euro 4 emission standards.

Generally speaking, vehicles registered from 1st October 2006 will meet Euro 4 standards however vehicles registered before this date may well have a Euro 4 engine fitted and will qualify for exemption. It is also possible to meet the Euro 4 standards by having a particulate trap retrofitted.

If in doubt, advice should be sought from Transport for London.

London Congestion Charge

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The London Congestion Charge covers the Central London area and costs £10 per day.

The Law is very simple when it comes to buses & coaches:

Vehicle taxed as a bus - automatically exempt
Vehicle not taxed as a bus - need to register for 100% discount

Dartford River Crossing

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There is a toll system in operation at the Dartford river crossing on the A282/M25, between the hours of 6am and 10pm.

Buses are treated the same as "2 axle goods vehicles" for the purposes of the toll charge. Therefore the charge at the time of writing (May 2013)  is £2.50 per crossing. This can be reduced to £2.19 per crossing with a pre-paid Dart Tag.

Between the hours of 10pm and 6am crossings are free of charge!!

Highways Agency link

© Colin Thorne 2010 - 2020 (unless stated otherwise)

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