Obligations of accredited bus operators

The bus operator accreditation and registration schemes have been simplified and consolidated into one accreditation system. These changes will come into effect on 1 March 2022.

Read about the changes to the Bus Safety Act and proposed amendments to the Bus Safety Regulations on the Department of Transport consultation page.

This page outlines the legal obligations of accredited bus operators in Victoria.

Bus operator accreditation is subject to the following mandatory conditions:

Bus driver accreditation

A person must not be permitted to drive a bus that is providing a commercial bus service, local bus service or commercial minibus services unless that person holds a driver accreditation under Division 6 of Part VI of the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 (Vic).

Visit the Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria (CPVV) website for information about driver accreditation.

Compliance with standards

An accredited bus operator must use buses that comply with the vehicle standards applicable to buses under the Road Safety Act 1986 (Vic) and comply with prescribed requirements.

Certificate of accreditation

An accredited bus operator must keep the certificate of accreditation given to the operator by Bus Safety Victoria (BSV). This certificate must be produced upon request by BSV.

An accredited bus operator must not deface, alter or part with possession of a certificate of accreditation except as required or permitted under the Bus Safety Act 2009 (Vic) (BSA) or Bus Safety Regulations 2020 (Vic) (BSR).

An accredited bus operator must deliver the certificate of accreditation to BSV within 14 days of:

  • The document being defaced or altered
  • The operator receiving notice of the suspension or cancellation of the accreditation
  • The operator receiving a new certificate of accreditation following variation of the accreditation under s 42 of the BSA
  • The operator ceasing to be accredited.

Replacement of responsible person

If the responsible person ceases to be an employee or officer of the accredited bus operator, the accredited bus operator must ensure that:

  • Another employee or officer of the operator completes an approved training course and that BSV is advised of who this employee or officer is, or
  • If it is not practicable for another employee or officer of the accredited bus operator to complete an approved training course before the responsible person ceases to be an employee or officer of the accredited bus operator, the accredited bus operator may seek the approval of Bus Safety Victoria to allow another person to complete an approved training course at a later date.

Changes in circumstances

If a relevant change in circumstances occurs with respect to an accreditation or an accredited bus operator, the accredited bus operator must notify BSV of the change in writing within seven days after becoming aware of the change.

A relevant change in circumstances is one:

  • That has resulted or will result in any particular set out in:
    • the application for accreditation or
    • in any document that accompanied that application or was supplied to BSV in connection with it, orthe certificate of accreditation, becoming inaccurate or inapplicable, or
  • With respect to the manner of operating the commercial bus service or local bus service that has resulted or will or may result in the accredited bus operator not being able to comply with a requirement under the BSA, or
  • That has resulted or will or may result in a ground for refusal of accreditation referred to in s 27 or s 28, BSA becoming applicable to the accredited bus operator, or
  • With respect to the number of buses or bus services being operated by the accredited bus operator.

If the relevant change in circumstances makes any detail of the certificate inaccurate or inapplicable, the accredited operator must notify us of the change and surrender the certificate.

If this is the case, we may insist on any necessary information (including a criminal records check) we need to decide whether or not it is appropriate for the operator to continue to be accredited.

Compliance with Bus Safety Regulations

An accredited bus operator must ensure that every bus used in the provision of the bus service complies with, or is operated in accordance with, the BSR.

Annual audits

An accredited bus operator must complete an audit at least annually of their management information system and their maintenance management system to identify any deficiencies in those systems, and must rectify any deficiencies found during the audit or as a result of the audit.

Annual accreditation fees

An accredited bus operator must pay an annual accreditation fee to BSV:

  • Within 14 days after being granted accreditation in the first year; and
  • Within 14 days after the anniversary of the date of the granting of the accreditation in each subsequent year.

Duty of operator to ensure safety

An operator of a bus service must, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure the safety of the bus service, under s 15, BSA.

In determining what is reasonably practicable in relation to ensuring the safety of the bus service, must consider the following matters, under s 14(2), BSA:

  1. The likelihood of the hazard or risk concerned eventuating
  2. The degree of harm that would result if the hazard or risk eventuated
  3. What the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the hazard or risk and any ways of eliminating or reducing the hazard or risk
  4. The availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or reduce the hazard or risk
  5. The cost of eliminating or reducing the hazard or risk.

Learn about safety dutiesimproving safety culture and managing the risks to bus safety.

Bus safety inspections

An accredited bus operator must ensure that each bus used to provide the commercial bus service or local bus service undergoes a safety inspection annually, or at prescribed intervals, in accordance with the BSR.

Alcohol and drug management policy

An accredited bus operator must develop, maintain and implement an alcohol and drug management policy that is developed in consultation with bus safety workers who are employees or contractors of the operator for the purposes of operating the bus service, and must be in writing.

The policy must specify that a driver of a bus must not have alcohol or drugs present in his or her blood or breath immediately before or while driving a bus, and the policy must comply with any guidelines regarding the form and content of alcohol and drug management policies issued by BSV (ss 56-57, BSA).

Maximum number of passengers

The operator of a bus service must, for each bus used to provide the bus service, determine the maximum number of passengers that may be safely carried on the bus, and maintain a record of the number determined. The operator of a bus service must ensure that the driver of each bus used in the bus service is aware of the number recorded.

Devices for school buses

The operator of a school bus service (for example, 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), must ensure that any bus used to provide the bus service is fitted with complying lights and signs.

Fire extinguishers

The operator of a bus service must ensure that each bus used in the provision of the bus service is not used unless all fire extinguishers fitted to that bus are maintained in operating condition.

Notification of bus incidents

An accredited bus operator must verbally notify Bus Safety Victoria as soon as possible after becoming aware that a bus incident has occurred.

Learn more: Report a bus incident.

Bus incident investigation

If directed by Bus Safety Victoria to do so in writing, a registered bus operator must undertake an investigation into a bus incident.

Accreditation cannot be transferred

When you become an accredited bus operator the qualification is for you only and cannot be used by anyone else.

This is outlined in the BSA as follows:

Part 4 – Accreditation and registration

Section 39 Accreditation cannot be transferred

  1. An accreditation –
    • Is personal to the accredited bus operator
    • Is not capable of being transferred or assigned to any other person or otherwise dealt with by the accredited bus operator;
    • Does not vest by operation of law in any other person.
  2. A purported transfer, assignment or lease of an accreditation and any other purported dealing with an accreditation by the accredited operator who holds it is of no effect.

Simplified meaning of the above:

Section 39 – the approval you have been given to run your bus service is for you only

  1. An approval –
    • is for whoever it has been given to
    • cannot be given to someone else to use as proof that a bus service is approved
    • does not legally work under the name of anyone else
  2. is not valid if someone tries to lend it to someone.

Allowing an unaccredited operator to use your accreditation, either by the vehicle number plates or displaying your Accredited Operator (AO) number while in service is giving a false impression to authorities and passengers.

The accreditation provides an assurance that there are safety management and information management systems in place. Giving this “tick of approval” to someone or an organisation that has not met all of the accreditation criteria exposes the risk of reduced safety standards and non-compliance.

BSV enforces the appropriate use of accreditation under the following principles outlined in the BSA:

Part 2 – Principles of bus safety, 11 Principle of enforcement

Enforcement of this Act and the regulations should be undertaken for the purpose of –

  • Protecting public safety;
  • Promoting improvement in bus safety;
  • Removing any incentive for unfair commercial advantage that might be derived from contravening the bus safety requirements under this Act or the regulations;
  • Influencing the attitude and behaviour of persons who action may have adverse impacts on bus safety.

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