New bus safety regulations

9 October 2020

The Department of Transport has introduced the Bus Safety Regulations 2020 to reduce red tape and improve the effectiveness of the regulatory requirements.

The previous regulations, Bus Safety Regulations 2010, provided for the safety of bus services in Victoria by giving effect to key provisions of the Bus Safety Act 2009 (BSA).

The Regulations cover:

  • bus operations
  • vehicle requirements
  • accreditation and registration of bus operators – information required and conditions
  • safety management systems for accredited operators
  • systems for complying with safety duties (Management Information System)
  • systems for maintaining safe vehicles (Maintenance Management System)
  • exemptions from designated provisions
  • inspections and audits of bus operators
  • incident reporting and bus incident investigations
  • record keeping
  • fees.

The Subordinate Legislation Act 1994 (SLA) provides for the automatic revocation of regulations after 10 years of operation. The Regulations are due to expire on 12 October 2020.

Some of the amendments which have been approved include:

  • Improved reporting requirements of bus incidents
  • Provide for the waiver or reduction of prescribed fees where there are reasonable grounds to do so
  • Permit additional authorised persons to determine the maximum carrying capacity of a bus
  • Requirement to display accreditation or registration numbers on buses
  • Requirement to record the number of buses in your fleet

We have summarised the changes below. Read the Bus Safety Regulations 2020 in full on the Victorian Legislation website.

What’s changed?

Matter

Changes

Notification of bus incidents

Three categories of reporting and new types of reportable incidents have been added to the revised Regulations:

  • Category 1 incidents require oral notification as soon as possible and written notification within 72 hours.
  • Category 2 incidents require written notification within 72 hours
  • Category 3 incidents relating to anti-social behaviour require notification on a monthly basis

Category 3 monthly reporting by bus operators will commence on 1 January 2021.

Identification

A new requirement for operators to display their accreditation or registration number on their buses has been added. The minimum size of the number will be 50mm.

To provide time for the industry to comply with the identification requirement, this requirement will commence on 5 April 2021.

Annual bus inspections

TSV has the power to require a bus operator to have vehicles inspected more frequently than the default annual inspection if TSV considers that it is reasonably necessary or desirable to ensure safety.

Record keeping

The new Regulations require registered operators to keep the following records:

  • record of each bus in the fleet of the registered operator, including:
    • the vehicle registration number
    • the vehicle identification number
    • the maximum number of passengers that may be safely carried on the bus
  • record of the total number of buses in the fleet of the registered operator
  • evidence of roadworthy inspections conducted for each bus operated by the registered operator
  • evidence of any action taken by the registered operator to rectify a bus defect or issue that is identified by a licensed bus tester during roadworthy inspections.

To provide time for registered operators to comply with the new record keeping requirements, this requirement will commence on 5 April 2021.

Under the revised Regulations, accredited operators are required to keep records of buses in the fleet as per the previous regulations.

Fees

The Regulations provide that TSV may waive, or refund, any specified prescribed fee payable.

Note: There are no changes to fees.

Maximum number of passengers

Under current regulations, the maximum number of passengers is based on the manufacturer’s specifications or calculated by a licensed bus tester.

The Regulations permit additional authorised persons to determine/calculate the maximum carrying capacity of a bus, including Vehicle Assessment Signatory Scheme (VASS) engineers.

Applications for accreditation

As part of an application for accreditation:

  • the applicant is required to provide a national police certificate as part of the application
  • the applicant is required to disclose corporate insolvency history.

Definitions

The Regulations now clearly define the following:

  • the definition of school bus
  • the definition of complying lights and signs for school buses between light vehicles and heavy vehicles.

Note: There are no substantive changes to bus operator requirements as a result of these amendments.

Busses in a car park