School operations

School Bus Program

Criteria determining eligibility for the School Bus Program

This section explains the criteria used to determine if a student is eligible to access the School Bus Program (SBP). To access a school bus service, a student must:

  • meet all of the eligibility criteria detailed below — criteria 1 (or be granted an exemption to criterion 1), 2 and 3 (eligible student)
  • fall into a special category permitting travel, despite otherwise being ineligible (special category traveller)
  • be permitted to travel upon paying a fare (fare paying traveller).

Eligible students and special category travellers access SBP services at no cost.

Public transport

Students are expected to use public transport where a service is available within 1.6km (measured by shortest practicable route) of their home or closer to their home than the nearest school bus service. This applies to both students applying to access the SBP at no cost and to fare paying passengers.

Where school and public transport services overlap, students must be allocated to public transport services prior to school bus services, as long as this ensures a safe and economically responsible outcome.

In making travel allocations the Department and the Department of Transport consider:

  • bus loadings and student safety
  • student eligibility for transport assistance
  • cost implications
  • individual cases on their merits.

Student priority of access to services

With some services the demand for seats can exceed the carrying capacity of the bus. In these situations the following priority of access applies:

  • first priority – eligible students (including those previously approved to travel)
  • second priority – eligible government school students
  • third priority – eligible non-government school students
  • fourth priority – students who are eligible because they fall within an exemptions to an eligibility criterion or are considered a special category traveller (both government and non-government school students)
  • fifth priority – fare paying travellers who are government and non-government students
  • sixth priority – fare paying travellers (non-students)
    (see fare paying section for order of priority).

The coordinating principal should give preference to students with special needs or those travelling both morning and afternoon five days a week. If after applying these criteria there is more seating available, preference should be given to those who have the greatest distance to travel and to the youngest students.

Change of address

If a student changes residential address, a new application must be made to the coordinating school and re-assessed against all criteria.

Criterion 1 — Nearest appropriate school

Criterion 2 — Reside 4.8km or more from the school

To be eligible for the SBP, students must reside 4.8km or more from the school/campus they attend. This distance is measured by the shortest practicable route, driveable by car, from the student’s residential driveway to the school administration gate.

Criterion 3 — Be of school age and reside in Victoria

Students must reside in Victoria and be eligible to attend school. School is compulsory for all Victorian children aged between 6 and 17 years but children commonly attend school between 5 and 18 years old. In some circumstances, students may be as young as 4 or aged up to 20 and eligible to attend school. Refer to Enrolment for information on age eligibility.

Access to more than one bus service

Students may only access one bus service unless the coordinating principal approves the student’s travel because the student:

  • resides at more than one address
  • is attending a training program not at the school.

Where connecting bus services or bus interchanges exist, a student may be required to access more than one service to get to their school.

Students who reside at more than one address

Coordinating principals may approve students who reside at more than one address to access more than one service.

If a student is eligible for a school bus service from one of their residential addresses, they may be permitted to access more than one bus service at no cost.

A student not meeting the eligibility criteria may still be able to access a service as an ineligible traveller, either as:

  • a fare paying traveller
  • a special category traveller.

if they fall within either of these categories as described below.

Priority of access to each service must be allocated according to the student’s eligibility status from each address. As students travelling under these arrangements will not be accessing either service full time, coordinating principals need to consider the priority of access to services advice where spare capacity is limited.

An eligible student accessing more than one service only contributes to a case for the addition, modification or retention of the service from their primary address. In situations where there is an equal time spent at each address, the parents/carers must specify a primary address. Each student then only counts as one eligible student over the whole network.

Offsite training

A student may request permission to access more than one service to attend a registered training organisation or other Department-recognised training program that requires them to commute to an alternative location.

Coordinating principals may approve students attending offsite training to access 2 bus services.

Guidance chapter on the eligibility criteria for the School Bus Program

Reviewed 30 September 2021

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