/ University clubs- driving a minibus abroad
Briefly started looking into organising a uni club trip to Font, by all accounts it looks like driving is the way to go. However if you're taking 20 odd people you need a couple of minibuses, and you can't drive a uni minibus abroad (as I understand it) without a D1 license, which costs a fortune.
How do uni clubs get round this? Answers much appreciated!
Get a D1 license or drive your own cars.
Don't class it as a club trip, just a bunch of friends.
Uni clubs don't get round it. You CANNOT drive a minibus abroad unless you have the D1 license entitlement.
And maybe a waybill or similar.
It is fraught with complication and traps, and you can't just get around it by taking some of the seats out. Do your uni have any people carriers as well? Maybe you could hire one?
You may find these useful:
Can't put these as URLs because the forum tries to validate them and breaks.
These workarounds DO NOT work. If you're using the uni minibus with the uni branding down the side it's pretty obvious what it is.
Get the right licences for the minibuses. Take private cars or hire them, here or there. Maybe pile some folk on the plane/train, pick them up when you're there and do shuttle runs from campsite to crag if you're short of drivers. Limit numbers if you can't handle the logistics.
Or all go on the train, take bikes and have a different trip, you'd still have access to more climbing than you could possibly need. More of a summer option that given the Font weather.
It might be worth hiring a local coach service to collect/ drop from the ferry on the French side. Depending on numbers this isn't always prohibitively expensive. I say this from working on foreign uni field trips, rather than club trips but the logistics are the same.
Ours where white.
Driving your own car does work. I did it.
Thanks everyone, there's always a way! Classing it as a bunch of friends would definitely be the way forward but then we couldn't use the (cheaper) uni minibus. I assume that renting a bus is prohibitively expensive and/or might specify the need for a D1 as well.
Driving your own car wasn't what I meant as a workaround, it is an alternative :)
It isn't because the minibus rental company specifies D1. It's because the *law* specifies it. The UK has a local exemption whereby you can drive a minibus in certain circumstances without it, but this does NOT apply anywhere else in the world.
If you're looking to hire, a large 9 seat people carrier like a Vito or Renault Master might be a good option, but it's almost certainly cheaper just to use private cars if you have enough of them. Manchester Uni only has (or at least had) "buses" like these because it removes any licencing issue entirely, as they are legally cars.
Ah ok, thought I read somewhere that you can drive a van without D1 as long as the driver doesn't benefit under 'reward or gain' or driving on behalf f a business, which the uni is.
You can but *only within the UK* and subject to some other criteria e.g. the maximum weight of the bus which rules most 17 seaters out.
This exemption (which may not last forever but has been there since 1997) is a substitute for the old D1(101) not for hire and reward, which people who got their licence prior to 1997 have. That is valid abroad subject to certain (very strict) criteria, and was removed in 1997 because of standardisation of what various tests allowed someone to drive across Europe.
Other European countries don't have minibuses in the same way as we do, they're mainly a British thing. Over there they tend to be 9 seaters with big boots.
By van I assume you mean minibus (a vehicle with between 9 and 17 seats including the driver). You require a D1 licence, in general, to drive these vehicles. If you passed your test before 1997 you may have a D1 'not for hire or reward' licence, which is fine, but obviously this will not apply to most students.
Normally for a body to operate minibuses (or buses) the body must hold an appropriate operating licence. Certain charitable/voluntary/not-for-profit organizations may apply for 'standard' Section 19 permits (which are put into vehicles), allowing them to operate minibuses without a full operating licence (it is also possible to get 'large bus' Section 19 permits to operate full-sized buses but those have more restrictive conditions). The vehicles must not be used to transport the general public.
Standard permits also allow exemptions which ONLY apply in the UK. Full volunteer (not for hire/reward) category B (car) licence drivers who are over 21, under 70, and have at least 2 years driving experience to drive may a minibus with a gross maximum weight of less than 3.5 tons (which excludes most 17 seater minibuses), or 4.25 tons if disabled adapted. They cannot tow a trailer. They do not have to use the tachograph.
Outside the UK, you will require a full D1 licence, use the tachograph, and observe EU driver hours. Also the chances are the University wouldn't let you take the vehicle abroad anyway.
What Exeter do is just drive their own cars.
Gotcha. Thanks for that! Cars it is then!
I am not sure about the classification, but we went to the south of France in two 9 seater ford transits. I am not sure, but I don't think they are classified as D1 unlike the 17 seater equivalents. Another option is to hire 7 seat Ford Galaxies but luggage space will be limited and they are very expensive.
With regard to doing it as a group of mates - during the trips I did when I was at uni, I would say that something significant happened on 1 in 2 foreign trips. If you go as a group of mates, you won't be able to use the resources of your union / university should the worse thing happen. If you are going to do it as a uni group, then you need to do it all above board and legit.
One other possibility might be fly to Charles de Gaul and then hire cars when you get there.
Bugger, you are right and I am getting my numbers confused - you are correct that a 9 seater, as a vehicle with no more than 8 passenger seats, counts as a car :P
A vehicle with between 9 and 16 passenger seats counts as a minibus (and hence has 10-17 seats).
I made sure I had foreign breakdown cover for the trip as a very minimum - getting stuck with a breakdown in France sounds absolutely no fun at all. And as you say, probably better to do it through the Union (which was how the Exeter trip was run). Travel insurance covering climbing was also insisted upon.
We broke down at a French toll both once when we ran out of fuel (the gauge said a quarter full). It resulted in the hilarious situation where we had to push the minibus through. When the chap arrived to fill us up, he made us pay in cash so that is worth taking into account.
Make sure everyone going also has a valid EU medical card thingie (they used to be E111) so at least you have the basics covered.
Also ask your union what the procedure is if something does go wrong. At the end of the day, you may be a group of friends, but as trip organiser, it will be you they turn to if something does go wrong.
Finally - have a great time. We used to have a uni trip to Font every October / November. They were some of the most drink fuelled weekends I have ever endured. I think climbing was involved.
Oh - and one last thing. Don't bother trying to save the £40 or so in tolls. We used to head down by N roads and the trip from Brum used to take all night. I have since learned that Calais to Font is 3.5 hours by car on the motorway.
We took the main autoroute to Paris (I agree trying to avoid the toll here would be insane), then took the outer ring road around the edge of Paris (La Francilienne, rather than the Peripherique) and the N road through Melun to Font which seemed to work quite well. Still hit traffic in Paris, but I think that is unavoidable...
We regularly rent a 9 seater mini bus here in France to transport clients around. The law here is that a bus up to 9 seats can be driven on a normal French licence. This is equivalent to a normal UK licence. Are the laws in the UK different?
Yes. In the UK, you can also drive up to 17 seats (cat D1) with a normal licence under specific, very limiting conditions, or if you have an older pre-1997 licence under slightly less limiting conditions.
A 9 seater (including driver) "minibus" is not legally a minibus (category D1). It is a large car (category B).
I organise a trip to Europe every year for my mountaineering club and we take anywhere from 11 to 30 people, and I use a mixture of the university transport available & hire new stuff in as well.
31 people - Uni 9 Seater, Hired Van, 5 Cars - left Nottingham at night and drove all night arriving in the morning.
25 people - Uni 9 Seater, Hired 9 Seater, Hired Van, Car
11 people - Hired 9 Seater, Uni Van, Car
The vehicles are all insured under the university policy (your uni will have one if it lends out vehicles to students) at a small additional cost. The biggest cost (behind fuel) is hiring externally, hence why I use the uni vehicles when possible.
I looked into getting a few D1 drivers and hiring a 17 seater, but it worked out more expensive.
Any more questions about more specific organisation of these sorts of things, then just PM me.
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