How to set up a regular minibus service

What is a regular minibus service

Minibus services run regular trips for groups. Passengers register for the service and book their seats in advance.

A minibus service is not a public bus service. They are easier to set up, but are unlikely to include Hampshire concessionary travel. If offering concessionary travel is a priority, see how to set up a community bus service.

You will operate under a Section 19 Standard Permit for group travel. This means your passengers must be one of the following:

  • members of the group running the service
  • people the group is set up to help (e.g. Age Concern providing transport for older people)
  • people in a community whose public transport needs are not met

Passengers pay for the cost of their trip through:

  • fares
  • membership fees
  • activity fees
When is it suitable?
  • There is a group need for access to local facilities (shopping, leisure facilities)
  • You want to provide a door-to-door passenger pick-up service
  • Trips can be changed or cancelled at short notice if there is low demand
  • A minibus (owned or hired) – see hiring or buying a minibus
  • A bookings coordinator
  • A treasurer
  • Minibus drivers. Volunteer drivers can help keep the cost of the service down. If hiring a minibus, it may be possible to hire a driver
  • If you have a pool of volunteer drivers, you should have a MiDAS Driver Trainer/Assessor
Legal requirements and best practice

A Section 19 Standard Permit allows you to run a minibus for group travel as a not-for-profit organisation. This is a requirement if passengers contribute to the cost of the journey in any way. If you hire a minibus from a Community Transport Scheme, you may be covered by their Section 19 Permit.

Next steps
  • Recruit a committee
  • Recruit a minibus driver (if using volunteers)
  • Buy or hire a minibus
  • Work out the running costs of the service
  • Find out if you need your own Section 19 Standard Permit
  • Establish user needs, timetables, fares and membership
Further advice

Hampshire County Council Community Transport Team
Economy, Transport and Environment Department

Phone: 01962 846785

Case study
Colden Common Community Association Minibus Shopper

The Colden Common Community Association (CCCA) owns and operates a minibus, providing transport for not-for-profit groups and organisations in the village. This includes shopping trips for residents who find using public transport difficult.

The minibus has 15 seats, a ramp at the rear and a passenger lift for those travelling in wheelchairs.

The service operates two shopping trips a week:

  • On Wednesdays, for a return fare of £2, the service operates to a local Tesco with an optional stop in Winchester city centre.
  • On Thursdays, for a return fare of £1.50, the service operates to a local ASDA or Eastleigh town centre.

The service picks up pre-booked passengers from their home address. Drivers assist those who need help carrying shopping to their door.

The shopping trips are driven by one of the nine volunteer drivers on a roster basis. All drivers are MiDAS trained and have clean DBS checks to work with vulnerable people.

The income generated from hires and fares covers the costs of operating the minibus. Any surplus goes towards a replacement minibus. The scheme relies on the availability of grants and the generosity of organisations and individuals to make up any shortfall.