A local bus service uses public service vehicles (PSVs) to carry passengers who pay separate fares over short distances.

The route can be any length, as long as passengers can get off within 15 miles (measured in a straight line) of where they got on.

Example An express service runs from Bristol to Chepstow. You may think it does not need to be registered as your passenger will travel more than 15 miles between where they get on and off. However, it does need to be registered because it’s less than 15 miles in a straight line.

You must usually register with the local authority and the local traffic commissioner if you’re operating a local service outside London - there are some exceptions.

You need a London Service Permit to run a service in London.

Who can register

You can register a local bus service if you:

  • hold a valid PSV operator’s licence
  • hold a community bus permit
  • are a local education authority and want to provide a local service using a school bus belonging to you

Taxi or private hire vehicle owners can also register by getting a special PSV operator’s licence.

Before you register

Before registering a local bus service you should consider if:

  • your route is suitable
  • you have the right sort of vehicles
  • you can keep to the timetable given the traffic conditions on route
  • you have enough drivers to cover absences though sicknesses, holidays, etc
  • you have replacement vehicles if other vehicles are off-road
  • there are any traffic regulation conditions – contact your local traffic area office
  • a Quality Partnership or Quality Contract Scheme exists - contact your local transport authority

You must run the service just as you have registered it, even if staff members are ill or a vehicle is off the road. There are penalties if you do not.