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Transport: Prison Vans

Volume 713: debated on Friday 23 October 2009


At the time of providing the Answer to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay on 5 October (Official Report, col. WA 386), my officials’ understanding was that in January 2009, Transport for London (TfL) had agreed with our prisoner escort contractor, that seven-cell vehicles had approval to use bus lanes.

Since then Mayor Boris Johnson (on behalf TfL) has written to explain that this agreement is no longer correct. TfL has reconsidered the matter and now advise that seven-cell prison vans do not have permission to use bus lanes. TfL’s reason for this is that seven-cell vehicles do not meet the necessary criteria, in order to define them as a “bus”. These vehicles are therefore subject to a penalty charge if they do enter bus lanes. This also applies to six-cell prison vehicles.

Transport for London has agreed that the 14 and 12-cell prisoner escort vehicles have permission to use these lanes. These vehicles deliver a high priority service to courts and prison. They are also classed as mini buses and are able to use these lanes. Further discussions are taking place with Transport for London and the High Sheriff to ascertain whether the prisoner escort contractor's smaller six-cell vehicle can also use the lanes.