Bus services that require accreditation

Bus operator accreditation requirement

An operator of a bus service must be accredited with Safe Transport Victoria under Part 4 of the Bus Safety Act 2009 to provide bus services, unless:

For more information on exemptions, please refer to the Bus Operator Accreditation Exemptions below.


Operating a bus with 13 or more seats, including the driver, a commercial bus service is:

  • a route bus service
  • a demand responsive bus service
  • a tour and charter bus service
  • a courtesy bus service

An operator who operates a commercial bus service will need to be accredited.

A commercial minibus service uses a bus with 10-12 seats including the driver for:

  • a route bus service
  • a demand responsive bus service
  • a tour and charter bus service

An operator who operates a commercial minibus service will need to be accredited.

A local bus service carries passengers using buses with seating for 13 or more adults (including the driver).

Local bus services are:

  • operated on a regular basis or subject to demand; and
  • are available for use by the general public; and
  • are not operated for hire or reward

An example of a local bus service is a council that provides a service along a fixed route at no cost and is available to the public.

An operator who operates a local bus service will need to be accredited.

This service involves transporting passengers by bus for activities related to:

  • Religion
  • Education
  • Health
  • Welfare
  • Philanthropy
  • Sports
  • Social organisations

These services are either free or offered at a cost covering part or all of the journey’s expenses.

An operator who operates a community and private bus service will generally need to be accredited. However, specified community and private bus operators are exempt from this requirement.

For more information, please refer to Bus Operator Accreditation Exemptions below.

This service involves transporting passengers by bus for payment, or as part of a business activity or trade.

Operators of courtesy bus services must be accredited unless the bus service has been declared by Safe Transport Victoria under section 7(1)(c) of the Bus Safety Act 2009 to be a non-commercial courtesy bus service.

For more details, see Bus Operator Accreditation Exemptions below.

This service involves transporting passengers by bus for payment within a certain area.

The route can change based on passenger demand, and each passenger pays a separate fare. Operators of demand-responsive bus services must be accredited.

This is a bus service where passengers pay to ride along a fixed route or on a regular basis.

A route is a fixed route even if:

  • a stop on the route is not used on every journey, or ceases to be used altogether; or

  • different routes are used on different journeys of the bus service to get from one stop on the route to another

A bus service operates on a regular basis even if

  • it only operates on any particular occasion if there is a sufficient level of demand for it; or

  • it requires a person using it to book or reserve a place before using it.

An operator who operates a route bus service will need to be accredited.

A tour and charter bus service is:

  • a bus service hired to carry tourists to a common destination; or
  • a bus service hired to carry a group of persons, which has been booked by that group or by another person on behalf of that group. The members of that group are not each charged a separate fare.

An operator who operates a tour and charter bus service will need to be accredited.

This service is one where a person rents a bus for a specific time in exchange for payment (other than under a hire-purchase agreement within the meaning of the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012).

An example of this is when business rents out buses to the public.

The renter or someone they choose must drive the bus during that time.

An operator who operates a hire and drive bus service will need to be accredited.

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.

A school bus service is not a standalone bus service type, it is a sub service type. e.g.: Commercial bus service > Tour and charter bus service > School bus service; or Community and private bus service > School bus service.

A route bus service that is available to the general public that is used by children to travel to and from school is not a school bus service regardless of whether—

  • the bus service is an additional service scheduled by the bus operator to handle increased passenger numbers because of school children using that route bus service; or
  • stops on the route that are at or near a school are only used on journeys made at or around school start and finish times.

This table describes the types of bus service that can be operated and the bus operator accreditation requirement. The last column provides an explanation of associated legislation.

Scenario Requirement Reason
Government contracted school service, where the Victorian Government contracts a bus operator to transport school students to and from school. Accreditation This is a commercial bus service under the Bus Safety Act.
School bus services funded by the school, where the school itself has a private arrangement where it pays a bus operator to provide to and from school transport services. Accreditation This is a commercial bus service under the Bus Safety Act.
Schools operating their own bus service, where students are not charged, and a school operates the bus/es to transport school students to and from school for no fee or a fee for cost recovery only. Accreditation This is a community and private bus service under the Bus Safety Act.
Schools operating their own bus solely for school related activities (e.g. excursions) where students are not charged and the school (government or private) owns and operates a bus that is used only to transport school students and staff on school excursions, etc., but does NOT provide to and from school transport services. Accreditation This is a community and private bus service under the Bus Safety Act.
Schools operating their own bus service, where students are charged a fee to access to and from school bus services operated by the school. Accreditation This is a commercial bus service under the Bus Safety Act.

Bus operator accreditation exemptions

The Bus Safety Regulations 2020 outlines some exemptions from the requirement to be accredited.

This includes declared non-commercial courtesy bus service operators, specified community and private bus service operators, and certain operators that only operate a bus service by hiring a bus. Further details can be found below.

A non-commercial courtesy bus service is one that does not make a profit.

A bus service declared by Safe Transport Victoria under section 7(1)(c) of the Bus Safety Act 2009 to be a non-commercial courtesy bus service does not need to be accredited.

To apply for declaration as a non-commercial courtesy bus, you must operate a courtesy bus service within the meaning of the definition, and Safe Transport Victoria must be satisfied that the operator of the service does not derive any profit from the service.

If you meet this criteria, you can apply to Safe Transport Victoria here.

Community and private bus service operators that only operate buses with less than 24 seats (including the driver) are exempt from the requirement to be accredited. This exemption is automatic – you don’t need to apply for exemption.

This exemption however does not apply to:

  • operators that are a Council as defined by the Local Government Act 2020; or
  • operators that provide bus services for or in connection with the activities of—
    • an educational body, for the transport of children or primary or secondary school students; or
    • a health or welfare body, for the transport of persons who need special care or support due to their age or disability.

Bus service operators that only operate buses occasionally, by hiring a bus to provide a single bus service, are exempt from the requirement to be accredited by the Bus Safety Regulations 2020. Providing a single bus service may involve one or more trips.

This exemption is automatic – you don’t need to apply for exemption.