Changes to bus accreditation requirements for Victorian disability organisations
What you need to know
- As of 1 March 2022, bus operators, including those who provide community or private bus transport for people with disabilities, need to be accredited.
- Accredited providers must comply with a number of requirements, including having accredited operator numberplates and implementing a Maintenance Management System and Management Information System
- An accreditation fee will be phased in over the next four years
Changes have been made to the Bus Safety Act 2009 and Bus Safety Regulation 2020, which are likely to impact disability providers who operate buses for clients. Under the new regulations, which came into effect on 1 March 2022, community and private sector organisations that operate bus services for ‘people who require special care or support due to age or disability’ are required to gain accreditation.Under the legislation, buses are defined as vehicles which have been built as buses to provide seating to 10 or more passengers (including the driver).
Operators who were accredited or registered under the previous regulatory system will have been automatically accredited from 1 March 2022, and do not need to apply for accreditation.
New operators who were not registered or accredited under the previous scheme will need to go through a process of accreditation. This process involves proving competence and capacity to provide a safe bus service, and establishing whether the relevant person (business owner, director, safety manager etc) is a ‘fit and proper person’ through a criminal background check.
All accredited providers are required to comply with a number of requirements, including:
- Putting in place a Maintenance Management System (MMS) and Management Information System (MIS) by 1 March 2023
- Fitting accredited operator numberplates to all buses by 1 March 2023
- Completing audits against the MMS and MIS
- Notifying Bus Safety Victoria when a bus incident occurs
- Paying an annual accreditation fee.
- No fee will be payable in year 1 (1 March 2022 to 28 February 2023)
- 25 per cent of the total fee will be payable in year 2 (1 March 2023 to 29 February 2024)
- 50 per cent of the total fee will be payable in year 3 (1 March 2024 to 28 February 2025)
- 75 per cent 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. The phasing in of fees does not apply to operators who were already accredited under the old scheme, who must pay 100 per cent of the accreditation fee when it is due.
NDS acknowledges the need for high safety standards for buses which provide transport for people with disability. However, we are concerned about the impact of the cost and burden of bus accreditation. We understand that these new requirements are prompting some members to take the opportunity to review their transport strategies, particularly in a context of resetting of services as we recover from the pandemic peaks.
We welcome feedback from members about these bus accreditation changes.