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Package tours, Tour Operator/Agent Licences & the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009

Following on from recent compliance activities, it has come to the attention of the Authority that there is some confusion regarding the definition of a package tour, the definition of a tour operator and the impacts of these on the requirement to hold a public bus passenger service licence under the Public Transport Regulation Act, 2009.

For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to draw your attention to the following:

  • Packages as defined by the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act, 1995 do not include day tours within Ireland.

As per the Package Holidays and Travel Trade Act, 1995, a package is defined as:

““package”… means a combination of at least two of the following components pre-arranged by the organiser when sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price and when the service covers a period of more than twenty-four hours or includes overnight accommodation—

  1. transport;
  2. accommodation;
  3. other tourist services, not ancillary to transport or accommodation, accounting for a significant proportion of the package”

Therefore day tours carried out within Ireland by bus or coach do not fall under this definition. This is because they do not include an overnight stay and/ or last for more than 24 hours. If the day tour has a charge per passenger, the position of the Authority is that such services require a public bus passenger service licence. Charges can include, for example, cash, online payments, pre-paid journey cards and pre-paid tickets.

  • Tour Operator/ Travel Agent as defined by the Transport (Tour Operators and Travel Agents) Act, 1982 do not include day tours within Ireland

As per the Transport (Tour Operators and Travel Agents) Act, 1982, a tour operator and a travel agent are defined as:

““tour operator” means a person other than a carrier who arranges for the purpose of selling or offering for sale to the public accommodation for travel by air, sea or land transport to destinations outside Ireland, or who holds himself out by advertising or otherwise as one who may make available such accommodation, either solely or in association with other accommodation, facilities or services;

 “travel agent” means a person other than a carrier who, as agent, sells or offers to sell to, or purchases or offers to purchase on behalf of, the public accommodation on air, sea or land transport to destinations outside Ireland or who holds himself out by advertising or otherwise as one who may make available such accommodation, either solely or in association with other accommodation, facilities or services.”

 Therefore Tour Operators and/ or Travel Agents Licences as issued by the Commission for Aviation Regulation under the Transport (Tour Operators and Travel Agents) Act, 1982, do not apply to day tours carried out within Ireland. This is because they are defined in that Act as being for the transport of persons to destinations outside of Ireland. If the day tour has a charge per passenger, the position of the Authority is that such services require a public bus passenger service licence. Charges can include, for example, cash, online payments, pre-paid journey cards and pre-paid tickets.

If the tour crosses an EU Member State border and is carried out by bus or coach, Regulation (EC) No 1073/2009 and its pursuant requirements apply i.e. each vehicle providing the service carries on board a certified true copy of the Community licence and a valid control document for the journey. Control documents include a Journey Form for occasional travel or an Authorisation for regular services.

If you have any queries regarding whether a service you are considering providing falls under the remit of the Public Transport Regulation Act, 2009 and therefore requires a licence, please do not hesitate to contact the Authority by email at buslicensing@nationaltransport.ie.

IMPORTANT: Public Safety Issue – Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience has advised the Authority of an ongoing public safety issue at the Cliffs of Moher. The issue centres on the fact that the Visitor Experience site is at capacity for coaches/ buses.

The Authority reminds you that any Licence issued by the Authority is for each departure to operate using one bus only unless otherwise stated. Stop permissions issued by the Cliffs of Moher are issued on this basis and therefore the deployment of auxiliary services to the Cliffs of Moher is not permitted.

To mitigate the current issue and to prevent any increase, the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience will be shortly implementing the following:

  • If a vehicle arrives which is more than what is licensed e.g. vehicle number 4 arrives on a Licence which permits a maximum of 3 vehicles, that vehicle will be refused entry and will be turned away. When arriving at the site as part of a licensed tour, the coach driver/ guide must carry a full copy of the Licence on board, as per the Licence Conditions. This must be shown to the staff of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience if requested. The Licence must be complete and include the timetable.
  • Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience cannot provide any new stop approvals at any time of the day between 01 March and 31 October annually. This includes any requests to deploy additional vehicles to currently licensed departures. Any such licence amendment requests will be returned to the Operator by the Authority.
  • Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience will consider any requests for new stop approvals for services operating between 01 November and 28/29 February annually strictly on a case by case basis.

If you have any queries on any of the above, please contact either the Authority at buslicensing@nationaltransport.ie or the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience at Geraldine.enright@cliffsofmoher.ie

Event or Venue Specific licence applications - overview

Due to the increasing number of applications being received by the Authority for Event or Venue Specific licences, and feedback from Local Authorities, the Authority hereby notifies you of the following:

1. The Authority recommends that all Operators apply for Event or Venue Specific licences as early as possible, preferably a minimum of 6 weeks in advance of the first proposed departure.

2. The onus of obtaining and submitting all of the required documentation for the grant and issue of a public bus passenger service licence remains at all times with the Applicant.

3. As part of processing licence applications, the Authority has to impose deadlines for the submission of all required documentation in order that all documentation can be checked within a reasonable timeframe.

4. For Event or Venue Specific Licences, no documentation required to issue a Licence will be accepted by the Authority later than 4pm, 2 working days prior to the first operation of services proposed by the Applicant. 

5. In practice this would mean if a licence application was proposed to commence on a Saturday, Sunday, or Bank Holiday Monday, all documentation must be received by 4pm the previous Wednesday evening; or if a service was proposed to begin on Friday morning, all of the required documentation must be received no later than 4pm the previous Tuesday.

6. If all required documentation has not been received by 4pm, 2 working days prior to the operation of the Event Specific Licence requested the application will be cancelled.

7. If an application for an Event Specific licence is cancelled, the application fee will not be refunded.

8. If all required documentation has not been received by 4pm, 2 working days prior to the operation of the first proposed service of a Venue Specific Licence application no Licence will issue. The Applicant may be afforded the opportunity to submit documentation for subsequent proposed events at the particular Venue.

9. If an application for a Venue Specific licence is cancelled, the application fee will not be refunded.

10. The Authority bears no responsibility for any outstanding liabilities to passengers in the form of prepaid tickets or other such advance payments. Any such responsibilities are the responsibility of the Applicant.

11. The cancellation of an application will not preclude the Applicant from applying for a public bus passenger service licence in the future.

12. For Event or Venue Specific licence applications, details of all proposed sub-contractors (i.e. signed sub-contracting agreement, RTOL number and tax clearance verification details) must be supplied as part of the application.

13. The addition of sub-contractors at a later stage in the process will delay the consideration of your application.

14. The addition of extra sub-contractors to an existing Event or Venue Specific licence will incur the amendment fee of €50.

15. Due to the volume of applications being processed the Authority will not, unless by express prior written agreement, use documentation submitted for one application to consider or process another application. The only exception to this is in the instance where a Stop Approval explicitly states that it is for use for multiple applications.

16. Regarding stops approvals, the Authority reminds all Applicants that:

16 a. Written Stop Approval from the relevant Local Authority/ Landowner is required for all locations where passengers are proposed to be picked-up or set-down.

16 b. Several Local Authorities have an indicative timescale for processing Stop Approval requests of 4 weeks.

16 c. Please be mindful that, given the kerbside congestion present in many areas throughout the country, your application for Stop Approval may be refused, the proposed location changed, the proposed time changed, or the proposed number of vehicles to be used reduced or restricted.

16 d. To avoid confusion for passengers regarding pick-up/ set-down locations and/ or timings, the Authority recommends that all Operators apply for Event or Venue Specific licences as early as possible.

16 e. Any documentation that requires the agreement of a third party (e.g. Stop Approval or a Sub-Contracting Agreement) must be verified by the third party, either by the submission of the original hardcopy of the approval, including the NTA reference number, or by direct email from the third party to Stop.Approval@nationaltransport.ie including the NTA reference number. An email forwarded by the Applicant from the third party or a photocopy of the original document is not sufficient.

16 f. If an Applicant obtains Stop Approval prior to submitting an application for a Licence and therefore does not have a NTA reference number, please ensure that the Stop Approval clearly identifies: the Applicant (e.g. National Bus), the relevant Route (e.g. Cork to Croke Park), the dates the approval is valid for (some Local Authorities/ Landowners will provide approvals for more than one event, including those that have yet to be announced), and the maximum number of vehicles that have been approved.

16 g. The Authority does not accept Stop Approval(s) received as part of one application as valid for another application, unless the permission specifically states that it is valid for more than one application. This is to afford the Road Authority/ Landowner a full opportunity to evaluate the safe usage of the proposed stopping place at the time of appraisal.

17. Any application to amend an existing Event or Venue Specific licence to do any of the following will require a formal amendment application and will incur the €50 amendment fee:

  1. increase the number of vehicles authorised, and/ or
  2. change stop locations, and/ or
  3. change sub-contractors, and/ or
  4. change the number of services.

18. It is an offence under the Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 to provide a public bus passenger service in contravention of the requirement to be licensed.

19. The Authority is authorised under Section 22 of the Public Transport Regulation Act of 2009 to bring proceedings and to prosecute offences.

20. Each offence is liable on summary conviction of a fine up to €5,000.

If you have any queries in relation to any of the above, please email them to: buslicensing@nationaltransport.ie

How to make a valid Event or Venue Specific licence application

To ensure that any application for an Event or Venue Specific licence is valid, please follow the application process as detailed below.

The Authority recommends that all Applicants apply for Event or Venue Specific licences as early as possible, preferably a minimum of 6 weeks in advance of the first proposed departure.

The Authority also reminds Applicants that the onus of obtaining all of required documentation for the grant and issue of a public bus passenger service licence remains at all times with the Applicant.

1. Submission of a completed application form (available from the Authority’s website at https://www.nationaltransport.ie/bus-licensing/licensing-application-forms/).

2. Payment of the €50 application fee.

3. Submission of a route map which clearly identifies:

3 a. the entire route taken, and

3 b. all stops where passengers are proposed to be picked-up/ set-down.

4. Submission of a timetable which clearly identifies:

4 a. All times at all locations where passengers are proposed to be picked-up/ set-down.

4 b. The maximum number of vehicles proposed to provide each service. All licences are issued on the basis of one vehicle providing each proposed service. For Event or Venue Specific licences this is generally incorrect, as demand is based around arrival at the destination at very specific times. Operators must apply for the maximum number of vehicles to enable the Landowner/ Local Authority to be able to accurately assess the safe usage of the proposed location.

4 c. The number of vehicles is generally estimated by Applicants by reviewing their previous services to the Event/ Venue.

4 d. Stop approval is based upon the number of buses and times that are indicated on the timetable, therefore it is in the Applicant’s interest to state the maximum number of vehicles as if you wish to alter the number of vehicles upward, a new stop approval would be required.

4 e. Any application to amend an existing Event or Venue Specific licence to add extra vehicles will require a formal amendment application and will incur the €50 amendment fee.

Example timetable:

Max. no. of vehicles to be used 3 2
Location
Sligo 13:30 14:00
Carrick-on-Shannon 14:10 14:40
Longford 14:40 15:15
Mullingar 15:05 16:00
Dublin 16:15 17:00

*Note: as the proposed timetable is for an Event or Venue Specific Licence, not all of the proposed services have to run, only those with adequate demand.

5. For all proposed sub-contractors the following must be supplied as part of the application:

5 a. Signed sub-contracting agreement,

5 b. RTOL number, and

5 c. Tax clearance verification details.

6. The addition of sub-contractors after an application has been submitted will delay the consideration of your application.

7. The addition of extra sub-contractors to an existing Event or Venue Specific licence will incur the amendment fee of €50.

 

The following documentation is not required at application stage, but will be required if your application is approved prior to a Licence being issued. It is in the Applicants interest to provide as much of this documentation as early as possible in the application process:

  1. Valid Insurance for each vehicle proposed to operate the service.
  2. Valid PSV for each vehicle proposed to operate the service.
  3. Valid Certificate of Roadworthiness for each vehicle proposed to operate the service.
  4. Stop approval for any location where it is proposed to pick-up/ set-down passengers. Several Local Authorities have an indicative timescale for processing Stop Approval requests of 4 weeks. Please be mindful that, given the kerbside congestion present in many areas throughout the country, your application for Stop Approval may be refused, the proposed location changed, the proposed time changed, or the proposed number of vehicles to be used reduced or restricted.
  5. If an Applicant obtains Stop Approval prior to submitting an application for a Licence and therefore does not have a NTA reference number, please ensure that the Stop Approval clearly identifies: the Applicant (e.g. National Bus), the relevant Route (e.g. Cork to Croke Park), the dates the approval is valid for (some Local Authorities/ Landowners will provide approvals for more than one event, including those that have yet to be announced), and the maximum number of vehicles that have been approved.

If you have any queries in relation to any of the above, please email them to: buslicensing@nationaltransport.ie