The Transport Legislation Miscellaneous Amendment Act 2021 (TLMA Act) was passed by the Victorian Parliament on 4 July 2021. This Act makes amendments to the Bus Safety Act 2009 to reform the current bus operator accreditation and registration scheme. These amendments come into effect today, 1 March 2022.
The amendments to the Bus Safety Act will see a number of changes and removes the previous two-tiered system of accreditation and registration.
In addition to the changes to the BSA, changes have been made to the Bus Safety Regulations 2020 (BSR) to give effect to the BSA changes. These are detailed in the Bus Safety Amendment Regulations 2022 (BSAR) and on or around 1 March 2022, a version of the BSA and BSR will be available that will consolidate all the changes into an update BSA and BSR.
The TLMA Act will consolidate the current accreditation and registration schemes for bus operators.
The implication of this change is that all new bus operators will need to be accredited and go through the same process when applying for accreditation. The accreditation process involves making an application and Transport Safety Victoria (TSV), the industry regulator, assessing the following aspects of the prospective bus operator:
- Competence and capacity – One of the entry requirements for accreditation is that the safety director (TSV) is satisfied that the bus operator has the competence and capacity to operate bus services safely. This requirement is a mandatory criterion for the current accreditation scheme but not the registration scheme.
- Fit and proper person test – Another requirement for accreditation is that the bus operator (namely, the management, directors, or a responsible person) is subject to a fit and proper person test. This is an assessment of the responsible person’s character and criminal history in the context of operating bus services (for example, has the person ever been bankrupt or found guilty of offence relating to fraud etc). This test is replacing the previous disqualifying offences schemes where operators would be assessed against prescribed offences.
Existing registered bus operators as of 1 March 2022 are deemed to be accredited and will not need to apply to be so.
The TLMA Act will not affect the general safety duty that applies to all bus operators. All operators will continue to be held responsible for the safety of bus services under a general safety duties scheme. Equally, the requirement for buses to be inspected by a licensed bus tester annually will remain.
If a bus operator was previously registered under the old scheme, they will automatically become accredited from 1 March.
Existing registered bus operators will need to comply with new regulatory requirements once they become accredited. This includes:
- Preparing and complying with an MMS and MIS. This category of operators will have until 1 March 2023 to comply with this requirement.
- Pay an annual accreditation fee (noting that fees are waived in the first year, and there will be a decreasing discount over four years.
- Converting number plates on buses over to accredited bus operator number plates. This category of operators will have until *1 March 2023 to comply with this requirement.
*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 email@example.com 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.