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Lightweight minibuses – what are they and who manufactures them?

Two excellent questions. Let’s first cover what a lightweight minibus is. To avoid the need for a D1 licence, some vehicle converters offer a 17 seat minibus and ramp (with a combined weight of less than 4.250 tonnes) that is essentially a converted panel van. Schools are being told that these vehicles will escape the legalities of having D1 licence training and allow the inexperienced (minibus) driver to take the wheel without any medical, eyesight test or professional training.

Some schools still choose this option just to avoid D1 training costs, but it has not yet been tested in court as to the loopholes of the law.

And the reason this of type minibus can be lighter in weight? Lack of heavier safety features such side impact bars.

Castle Minibus’ thoughts on lightweight minibuses

At Castle, it is our strong belief that these converted vehicles should not be used to transport people, and particularly our client base – school students.

In a recent article, Chris Maynard, MD of Castle Minibus said:

"This (lightweight minibuses) is an option currently being offered to schools who believe that the minibus can then be driven by anyone over 21 holding a standard car licence, which I consider a potentially massive safety issue.’

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Who manufactures lightweight minibuses?

Minibus manufacturers such as Ford and Mercedes continue to improve the safety and quality of their factory-built minibuses without any concern for licence weight limits, and none of them produce factory made lightweight minibuses.

In fact, the following manufacturers do not produce a minibus from their factories that has a gross vehicle weight of less than 3.5 tonnes and carries more than 11 passengers.

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