EU regulations regulate the business of road transport operators. The purpose is to provide EU-wide rules and a level playing field for businesses. The Department of Transport is the regulator in Ireland. An operator’s licence is an authorisation to pursue the occupation of road transport operator under the regulations.
A community (EU) licence authorises an operator to operate throughout the EU. They would be obliged to comply with general road traffic and regulations of states in which the business is undertaken and through which they drive. Officers of the Department of Transport, as well as members of Garda Siochana, have powers under the legislation to make appropriate checks requirements and verify compliance.
There are training competence and finance requirements applicable. The transport managers are to have certain qualifications and competence. There are ongoing compliance obligations. Breaches an offence.
In deciding whether to grant a licence or continue an existing licence, regard is had to
- reputation of the operator
- conduct of the operator or other key persons which may call into question their suitability to hold an operator licence
- suitability of the transport managers having regard to conduct
- previous infringements
- previous offences
- previous breaches of conditions
- need to ensure the safety and welfare of other users of the road
- representations received
- other relevant information
Older Merchandise Licences
The merchandise road transport legislation is older legislation dealing with the carriage of goods. Generally, a licence is required under the legislation to operate a merchandise road transport business or to carry merchandising in the state. There are certain limited exceptions. They include
- carriage of produce in vehicles less than 2.5 tons unladen 6 tonnes laden
- carriage of cattle, sheep or pigs
- carriage of newly harvested wheat malts and barley from a farm to a place of storage processing or assembly in the period first August to 1st December
- carriage of milk and milk containers to a cream Murray or cream separating centre
- certain carriage of turf
- carriage of livestock for persons living within 2 miles of a farm livestock auction or market under certain conditions
within a radius of 20 miles
Breach of the legislation is an offence
Vehicles licensed under the merchandise road transport legislation must exhibit a prescribed plate which is visible and can be inspected. Failure to do so is an offence.
A contract for the carriage by road of goods for reward is invalid unless the holder has a road carrier licence or the carriage falls into one of the excepted categories for which a licence is not required. Breaches are also an offence.
The drivers of merchandise-licensed vehicles must carry the licence. Failure to do so is an offence. A member of Garda Siochana may demand production. Failure to produce is an offence.
Bye laws may be made in relation to the travel bus services. Contravention of the bylaws is an offence. The bye laws provide rules in relation to
- conduct in boarding, on and in alighting from a vehicle
- behaviour while on board
- interference with vehicles
- duties of passengers
- things brought onto the vehicle
- payment of fares and tickets
- enforcement procedures
Licensing of Bus Services
The Public Transport Regulation Act 2009 provides for the licensing of public bus passenger services. The licence specifies the route and the conditions. There may be conditions regarding scheduling and frequency of service operation.
The categories of public bus passenger service licences are provided for. The authority provides for the period of validity which is a maximum of five years. An application is made for renewal.
There are provisions to deal with the death of a licence holder, which permits the personal representative to carry on the business for a limited period. There is a provision for the transfer of licences. An application is made to the Department.
License may be revoked on various grounds including in particular conviction of offences under that legislation. A notice of intention p to revoke is given. Submissions may be made which are taken into account.
The road traffic legislation contains several provisions on driving hours in respect of driving not covered by the EU-wide legislation. The rules are broadly similar in terms of hours, which may be driven.
It is an offence to fail to shut the gates at certain level crossings. The subject of summary conviction is a fine of up to €1000.
A transport disc is required in relation to a road passenger transport vehicle. It is an offence to fail to display the disc while the vehicle is being operated.