Due to changes to the Bus Safety Act 2009 and the Bus Safety Regulations 2020, the current two-tier regulatory scheme for bus operators (registered and accredited) is changing into a one tier scheme.
From 1 March 2022, bus operator registration will no longer apply. Currently registered operators will either become accredited, or, in some cases, will be exempt from the requirements of accreditation.
Operators who are already accredited will remain so. Your responsibilities remain unchanged.
It’s important that all current operators understand the changes and what is required of them. It is recommended that you read the updated Bus Safety Act 2009 and associated Bus Safety Regulations 2020 as a first step.
For registered operators who are deemed accredited from 1 March 2022, further information on your new responsibilities and how to meet them visit here.
All currently registered operators will have the opportunity to participate in a series of online forums targeted to their category of bus operation. More information about these sessions will be available in early March.
Operators that require accreditation include:
- Hire and drive
- Courtesy bus operators with 10-12 seats
- Commercial minibus operators
- Some operators who sit within the Community and Private sector. Specifically:
o Any Community and Private sector operator using a bus of 24 seats or more
o Operators who provide services to school aged children
o Operators who provide services to people who require special care or support due to age or disability
o Operators who are councils (that is, local government entities).
Summary of changes to permissioning of bus operators by TSV
- Under the current Bus Safety Act, bus operators are required to, depending on the nature of the service and the type of bus used, either be registered or accredited.
- From 1 March 2022, all bus operators will need to be accredited (unless exempt from that requirement).
- Exempt operators are those who meet the criteria set out in the Regulations.
Existing accredited bus operators
- If you are a bus operator who was previously accredited under the old scheme, you will continue to be accredited.
- There will be no need to reapply for accreditation.
- There is little to no change in terms of ongoing regulatory requirements (for example, MMS/MIS, record keeping, annual bus inspection etc).
- There is a small reduction in annual accreditation fee from 1 March (reduced by 10 fee units or approximately $150).
Existing registered bus operators
- If a bus operator was previously registered under the old scheme, they will automatically become accredited from 1 March 2022.
- There is no need to apply for accreditation.
- Previously registered operators must read the amended Bus Safety Act 2009 and Bus Safety Regulations 2020 to ensure you are familiar with these important documents and your responsibilities as an accredited operator.
- It is particularly important that you understand your responsibilities to have in place a Maintenance Management System (MMS) and Management Information System (MIS). These are important systems that support the safety of operation of bus services for accredited operators. However, if you are an operator who was previously registered and is now deemed to be accredited, you have up until 1 March 2023 to comply with the MMS/MIS requirements.
- You must also fit accredited operator numberplates to any buses you own and operate, and you also have until *1 March 2023 to comply with this requirement.
- All other requirements of the Bus Safety Act 2009 and Bus Safety Regulations 2020 apply from 1 March 2022 – so it is essential you are clear on your new responsibilities and what they mean to your operation.
* Accredited bus number plates for previously registered bus operators
- If you would like to obtain accredited bus number plates prior to the 1 March 2023 deadline, before going to your local VicRoads office please contact BSV via email on firstname.lastname@example.org and request a new certificate of accreditation be issued. Please include the following information in your email – your full name, organisation name, operating address and previously issued RO number e.g. RO123456.
VicRoads will ask for this certificate to prove your status as an accredited bus operator before issuing you with accredited bus number plates.
- All new operators will need to go through the process of accreditation with TSV unless they are exempt (see below).
- A new operator will need to make an application to TSV and provide the necessary information as part of that application.
- Accreditation applications are assessed on two main criteria:
- Competence and capacity to provide a bus service safely – how will the bus operator manage safety, and what actions will they take to do so? What experience does that operator have in operating buses or implementing safety systems?
- Whether the relevant person (for example, owner of business, director, safety manager etc) is a ‘fit and proper person’. BSV will ask for a criminal background check and make an assessment of the character based on that check, as well as consider other relevant criteria.
There have been some changes to how fees are calculated. These changes only apply to operators who were previously registered and are accredited from 1 March 2022. Fees did not apply to registered operators, but accredited operators must pay a yearly accreditation fee. The fee is calculated on the number of buses operated. Accreditation fees for previously registered operators will be phased in over time, as follows:
- No fee will be payable in year 1 (1 March 2022 to 28 February 2023)
- 25% of the total fee will be payable in year 2 (1 March 2023 to 29 February 2024)
- 50% of the total fee will be payable in year 3 (1 March 2024 to 28 February 2025)
- 75% of the total fee will be payable in year 4 (1 March 2025 to 28 February 2026)
Full fees will be payable from 1 March 2026. If you are an operator who was previously accredited, the phasing in of fees does not apply to you and you must pay 100% of your accreditation fee when it falls due.