Operating or Hiring a Bus Service

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Do you need to comply?

Yes, if your school operates a private bus service or hires a bus service.

Conditions of compliance

Under the new Bus Safety Act 2009 (Vic) there are two categories for Victorian bus operators:

  • Accreditation for all commercial bus operators operating bus services that include buses with 13 or more seats including the driver.
  • Registration for bus operators that either operate a non-commercial bus service with buses built with 10 or more seating positions, or commercial bus services using only smaller buses of 10 – 12 seats, including the driver.

A bus is a motor vehicle built with seating positions for 10 or more people (including the driver).

A bus service is the operation of one or more buses to provide a service for the transport of passengers by road.

A school bus service is a bus service providing a passenger service along a fixed route on a regular basis primarily for the purpose of transporting children to and from school.

Schools that operate their own bus service are considered to be “non-commercial” under Section 3, of the Bus Safety Act 2009 which states.

‘Bus services that consist of the carriage of passengers for or in connection with activities of a educational body and which is provided for no consideration or for consideration which is limited to the cost or part of the costs incurred in making the journey only require registration.’

Bus Safety Duties

Bus safety duties have been introduced for all bus operators. Safety duties apply to the operator of a bus service regardless of whether the bus is borrowed, owned, rented or leased. Further information is available in ‘Understanding your Safety Duties’. Safety duties require an assessment of the risks to safety and consideration of appropriate controls to eliminate or at least minimize the risks as far as it is reasonably practicable.

Bus Drivers

Schools operating small buses with up to 12 seats (including the driver) can do so with a current Victorian non-probationary driver’s license.

Buses with more than 12 seats must only be driven by persons who hold a full Victorian drivers license, a driver accreditation and a light, medium or heavy rigid license endorsement

For further information and Driver Accreditation Guidelines, visit the About the Victorian Taxi Directorate.

If you have to comply, what do you have to do?

In meeting the registration obligations required by Transport Safety Victoria (TSV), schools should:

  • ensure bus drivers hold a drivers license applicable to the type of vehicle driven
  • ensure the bus is maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition
  • ensure the bus undergoes an annual safety inspection carried out by a licensed bus tester. Further information is available in the fact sheet on annual bus safety inspections
  • consult with your bus safety workers to develop, implement and maintain an alcohol and drug management policy
  • address any risk or safety issues that you may observe or become aware of in relation to the bus, its passengers, the route travelled or stopping points.

Note: A bus safety worker is a person (employee, volunteer, trainee ) who carries out bus safety work for the operator which can include:

  • driving a bus or activities associated with driving a bus
  • designing, constructing, supplying, repairing, modifying, maintaining, monitoring, examining or testing a bus or equipment in or on the bus
  • setting or altering a schedule or timetable for a bus service or an activity.

As the new legislation works in conjunction with the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), schools can use existing risk management and safety systems/processes to demonstrate compliance with the Bus Safety Act 2009.

What are the consequences if you don’t comply?

Individuals may be liable under the Act for failing to take steps to ensure bus safety which may result in penalties.

Who will help you?

Independent Schools Victoria contact:

Peter Roberts
Director, School  Services
Ph. 03 9825 7211

Links and Resources

External linkTransport Safety Victoria

External linkTransport Safety Victoria: Bus Operator Registration

External linkTransport Safety Victoria: Types of Bus Services

External linkVic DET: Student Transport Programs

External linkVictorian Taxi Directorate: Bus Driver Accreditation Process

External linkVicRoads: Heavy Vehicle Licenses

External linkVicRoads: Victorian Bus and Truck Drivers Handbook