What are the benefits of leasing a minibus as opposed to buying a second hand vehicle?

A teacher recently wrote a question on a Times Education Supplement forum which I think raises some really interesting points concerning minibuses.

The question asked whether it was best to lease a minibus, or to buy a second hand minibus.

It is a question that many pose, and in many ways the answers (as those who have bought both are likely to attest) are fairly straightforward.

The key difference between a school minibus and a vehicle such as one’s own car is that a minibus tends to have multiple drivers – not all of whom may be 100% careful in checking every aspect of the bus’s performance and maintenance.

Of course all schools will have someone in charge of the bus, but even then, one can never be quite sure how the drivers associated with the previous owner of the bus actually looked after it.

Our survey has showed that over half of school minibuses are over five years old and thus don’t have the very latest safety and security features. 

Combine this with any lack of maintenance, and a second hand minibus can already be something of a risk even before it is purchased.

On the other hand when one leases a bus the cost can be spread, the maintenance can be included and you have a brand new, rather than a second hand, minibus.

Working with Benchmark Leasing the school can get (if it wishes) MOTs and VOSA safety checks included (with onsite inspections at your school), school branding, logo and livery (if so required), all the latest additional safety features that the most recent vehicles have, and all servicing, maintenance and repairs included (so you don’t get caught out with expensive and unexpected repair bills)…

In fact the list of benefits is quite extensive and continues quite a long way beyond this point.

If you are interested in leasing a new minibus please call us on 01753 859944.  

Alternatively take a look at our website for more information.

What is the easiest way to ensure that the minibus meets all the legal requirements before going out on the road?

One of the issues that arises with having one or more minibuses in the school is the question of who checks what.

As I have mentioned before in my notes on minibuses, if you lease the minibus, then all the servicing and similar activities can be carried out by the leasing company (which of course means Benchmark Leasing).

But even then the school is not removed from all responsibility. However a well-organised check system can alleviate much of the issue.

For example, if you have a check list for the person who is driving the bus he/she can quickly whizz through the key points on the return of the minibus each day, and tick the boxes to show if he/she had any concerns, if any panel light came on, etc.

The form to fill in might be very simple such as:

  1. Was there an accident or other incident that needs reporting?
  2. Did you use the First Aid Kit or Fire Extinguisher?
  3. Did any warning lights show – if so, what?
  4. Did you have any problem with visibility because of a dirty windscreen or dirty mirrors?
  5. Did anything appear broken or inoperative?
  6. Do you have anything else to report on the well-being of the minibus?

After that the individual in overall charge of the vehicle can have a check list like this and ok each point before the next journey. The key points are…

  1. The road fund licence is valid and visible.  
  2. The Small Bus Permit is visible.
  3. The First Aid Kit is present and contents correct.
  4. The Fire Extinguisher is present and fully operational.
  5. The lights are all working and clean.
  6. The tyres have a minimum tread of 2mm (including the spare).
  7. The oil, brakes, coolant and windscreen washers are all at the right levels and there is fuel for the next journey.
  8. The doors close properly.
  9. The mirrors and windscreen are clean. 
  10. Seat belts are operational.

Now a regular check of those ten items doesn’t take long – especially as modern vehicles all have warning lights telling you if there is anything amiss with the lights, if the windscreen wash is low, etc.

If you find that the bus is in a particularly poor state however, and this has not been reported by the driver who has signed a form to say all is well, then you will know that you really should be talking with the driver, and warning him/her of the responsibilities of the minibus driver.  A driver who flagrantly fails to report a problem twice, is probably not the person you want driving school children around.

But most people do take their responsibilities seriously, especially when aided by a helpful checklist. Such lists can make the whole operation of the vehicle much more efficient and effective as well as ensuring that the minibus does indeed run without mishap for as long as you would wish.

If you are interested in obtaining a new minibus on a lease then please call us on 01753 859944.

Alternatively take a look at our website for more information.

A school minibus which requires no maintenance speaks volumes to governors, parents, staff and students.

In the most simple of terms a school minibus says the most simple of things.

The new, sparkling, shiny modern bus says, “This school is going somewhere”.  It announces that the school is progressing, looking to the future, providing a quality education for all those attending.

Of course, there are many other ways in which the school announces the quality of its work and the dedication of its staff, but the minibus, picking up and dropping off students – sometimes, perhaps, in full view of the parents – makes this message loud and clear.

It also makes teachers ever more enthusiastic for learning outside the classroom – an approach which is proven to generate a higher quality of learning with greater levels of retention of knowledge than education within the school.

Thus it is that given the choice most of us would choose to drive a new minibus rather than an old one, just as most students would prefer to be in a newer rather than older vehicle.

And there is a further point, because given the choice most of us would choose not to have to do all the maintenance work (including tyres, clutch, battery, etc) on the school’s minibus.

Now that desire can be met through having a leased minibus that comes complete with a maintenance contract.

The great benefit of leasing is that the purchase of the bus doesn’t come in one lump from school funds. Rather the bus is paid for as it is used by the school.

So you get a double benefit. A new minibus which is less likely to have problems plus the option of having a professional undertake all the standard maintenance and servicing.

This effectively reduces the onus that is put on the person who is nominated in the school’s transport policy to look after the minibus. Indeed, it was to overcome issues and difficulties such as this that we introduced full maintenance as part of our minibus leasing.

Not only do the schools that use our service get a new minibus without having to use current capital to buy it, but they also get our certification that the bus has been checked by qualified engineers.

Given that the majority of school minibuses on the road are over five years old, this approach can be particularly valuable.

If you would like to know more take a look at our website – www.minibusleasing.co.uk/school-minibus.php.

Alternatively email us at Minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk or call us on 01753 859 944.