School operations

Buses – Owned, Hired or Chartered by a School

Maintenance management system

The purpose of the maintenance management system (MMS) is to ensure that the bus is serviced and maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition.

The components of an MMS (from Safe Transport Victoria) are:

  • maintenance
  • bus safety and inspections:
    • pre-trip inspections
    • vehicle safety inspections
    • annual bus safety inspections
  • defect reporting and clearance.

This guidance chapter outlines how schools are to address the components of an MMS. Templates are provided to support schools to meet these requirements. For more detailed guidance, refer to Safe Transport VictoriaExternal Link .

MMS policy and procedure

Schools must prepare an MMS policy and procedure. A department template (DOCX)External Link is provided to assist schools in meeting this requirement. The MMS policy and procedure outlines the processes for completing each type of inspection and the service and maintenance intervals of the buses. Schools must also retain documentation regarding how, when and what was serviced, maintained or rectified. These components of the MMS policy and procedure are outlined below.

Maintenance requirements

Schools must maintain a maintenance service schedule that is suitable for the age, make and model of all the buses in their fleet.

Schools are encouraged to use the manufacturer’s service schedule if it is available. Schools may use the department’s Maintenance register (DOCX)External Link if the manufacturers schedule is not available.

Bus safety and inspections

Schools must ensure they keep:

Schools must ensure that each bus undergoes a vehicle safety inspection (VSI) every 3 months and annually unless the bus meets the criteria for an annual safety inspection as per below.

  • A VSI can be substituted by an annual safety inspection (ASI) if the bus travels:
    • less than 20,000 km a year for a bus that is less than 5 years old
    • less than 10,000 km for a bus that is 5 years old or more, or for any bus that has already travelled 500,000 km or more.
  • The age of a bus can be determined in the following manner:
    • for an Australian manufactured new bus: the date of registration of body or chassis, whichever is earlier
    • for an Australian manufactured pre-owned bus: the date of first registration of body or chassis, whichever is earlier
    • for an imported new bus: the date of registration of body or chassis, or Australian compliance plate, whichever is earlier
    • for an imported pre-owned bus: the date of manufacture of body or chassis, whichever is earlier.
  • A VSI must be conducted by a qualified motor mechanic or equivalent.
  • The date of the first ASI is the ‘anniversary date’ for each bus – annual inspections must occur within 14 days either side of each bus’s anniversary date.
  • Annual bus safety inspections may only be undertaken by a licensed bus tester.

Safe Transport Victoria has developed examples of how a school bus operator can substitute a VSI with an ASI (DOCX)External Link and the qualifications required to conduct a VSI or ASI.

Pre-trip inspections

Schools must ensure that an inspection of the bus is completed prior to the first passenger carrying trip on each operating day and maintain a record of the inspection, including the date, bus details and result of the inspection. Schools may use the department’s Pre-trip inspection checklist and record (DOCX)External Link for this purpose. This checklist may be modified to suit school circumstance.

If any defects are identified, schools must not use the bus. Refer to the ‘defect reporting’ section for further information.

Defect reporting

Schools must maintain a defect and clearance report for owned and hired buses which records the defect and the steps taken to address it. Schools may use the department’s Defect and clearance report template (DOCX)External Link to assist in meeting this requirement.

Schools must ensure a bus is not used until defects are repaired.

Includes information on ensuring buses are serviced and maintained in a safe and roadworthy condition using a maintenance management system

Reviewed 20 February 2024

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