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education.vic.gov.au

School operations

School Bus Program

Ineligible Students Accessing the School Bus Program

Special category travellers

The coordinating principal may approve applications from students who would otherwise be considered ineligible to access a school bus service, if they fall within 1 of the special categories below. Special category travelers are able to travel at no cost. The exemptions are limited and specific and detailed below.

The coordinating principal determines which special category travelers have priority of access. The coordinating principal should give preference to students with special needs or those traveling both morning and afternoon 5 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.

Special category travelers cannot form part of a case for additions, retentions or modifications of services.

Students reside less than 4.8km from the nearest school

A government or non-government school student attending the nearest appropriate school for which admission is available and who resides less than 4.8km from that school may be able to travel at no cost on the school bus as a special category traveler. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel as a special category traveler subject to all of the following conditions:

  • the student lives at least 1.6km from a public transport service that could provide convenient access to and from their school at appropriate times
  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students have been accommodated
  • the student and the student’s parent/carer accept the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • the student intends to use the bus service daily
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • a parent/carer provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service

Post-secondary students and apprentices

The following categories of post-secondary students and apprentices may be permitted to travel as a special category traveler, at no cost, on a school bus service:

  • students undertaking further education or training courses, such as university, TAFE or adult and community education
  • apprentices who are required to attend school
  • students enrolled in an accredited course of study or an approved course for the unemployed, who live 4.8km or more from the education and training provider

The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel as a special category traveller subject to all of the following conditions being met:

  • the student lives at least 1.6km from a public transport service that could provide convenient access to and from their school at appropriate times
  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students have been accommodated
  • the student/apprentice (and parent/carer if under 18 years of age) accepts the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • the student/apprentice (or parent/carer if under 18 years of age) provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service

Before approving an application to travel from a post-secondary student or apprentice, the coordinating principal must undertake a suitable reference check.

A verbal reference check (from the student’s nominee) will normally be acceptable for:

  • students or apprentices aged under 18 years of age
  • students aged 18 or over who are progressing from school directly to further education or training
  • recent arrivals to Australia
  • those aged over 18 years of age who have not had a break in their education or training of 2 or more years of whom the coordinating principal considers not to be a risk to other students on the bus

Those who have had a break of 2 or more years from attending school full time are considered members of the general public and must satisfy the conditions applicable to members of the general public set out below in the guidance on fare paying travelers.

The coordinating principal must keep a written record of any reference check.

When an application is approved the student’s/apprentice’s name will be added to the bus roll. Prior to boarding the vehicle, the student/apprentice may be required to provide identification to the bus driver. If a bus seat is not currently available, the student will be placed on a waiting list, which is to be monitored by the coordinating principal.

Post-secondary students and apprentices must reapply to access school bus services each term.

Pre-school students

Pre-school students who have turned 4 years of age may be permitted to travel as a special category traveler, at no cost, on a school bus service. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel subject to all of the following conditions being met:

  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students have been accommodated
  • the student’s parent/carer accepts the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • a parent/carer provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access to travel or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service
  • a parent/carer of the applicant provides written confirmation to the coordinating principal that the child is independently able to travel on a bus
  • the pre-school teacher provides written confirmation to the coordinating principal that the child is independently able to travel on a bus and that an adult arranged by the pre-school teacher will escort the child between the bus stop and the pre-school in the morning and afternoon. Bus drivers are not permitted to escort students from the bus to the pre-school

Once a pre-school student transitions to school they must submit a new application to travel.

Interstate students

Each Australian state is responsible for the school transport of students residing in that state.

Interstate students attending Victorian schools

Students who reside interstate but attend Victorian schools may be permitted to travel as a special category traveler, at no cost, on a Victorian school bus service. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel subject to all of the following conditions:

  • the student is attending their nearest appropriate school
  • the student lives at least 1.6km from a public transport service that could provide convenient access to and from their school at appropriate times
  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students have been accommodated
  • the student and the student’s parent/carer accept the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • a parent/carer provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service
  • parents/carer understand that interstate students form no case for the extension, retention or variation to existing services
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
Victorian students attending interstate schools

Students who reside in Victoria but attend schools that are interstate may access a Victorian school bus service travelling to interstate schools at no cost provided they are attending their nearest appropriate school (irrespective of it being interstate) and meet all other eligibility criteria. Victorian students who do not meet the eligibility criteria but wish to access a Victorian school bus travelling to an interstate school are required to pay a fare.

Interstate students attending interstate schools

Students who reside interstate may access Victorian school bus services that are travelling to interstate schools at no cost. Access is at the discretion of the coordinating principal.

Ad-hoc student passengers

A student travelling on an ad-hoc basis may be permitted to access the school bus at no cost. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel subject to all of the following conditions:

  • student(s) will not disadvantage other passengers or result in an unacceptable bus loading
  • the carriage of ad-hoc students does not result in the necessity for bus travelers to stand while the bus is travelling in a speed zone of more than 80kp/h
  • the student accepts the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost

The coordinating principal is responsible for ensuring the daily bus rolls reflect any ad-hoc travelers. Ad-hoc travel is at the coordinating principal’s discretion to approve or decline.

Siblings of eligible bus users

A student who wishes to attend a school other than their nearest may be granted permission by the coordinating principal to travel on a school bus, as a special category traveler, where a sibling is enrolled at the school they wish to attend. Sibling requests are considered on a case-by-case basis. The coordinating principal may approve an application for permission to access the bus subject to all of the following conditions:

  • the sibling is still attending the school at the time of application
  • the sibling is eligible to access the school bus and does not access a school bus service as a special category traveller or fare paying traveller
  • the younger sibling resides 4.8km or more from any nearer school
  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students have been accommodated
  • the student lives at least 1.6km from a public transport service that could provide convenient access to and from their school at appropriate times

Teachers

Teachers may be permitted to travel on a school bus service as a special category traveler. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel subject to all of the following conditions:

  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students have been accommodated
  • the teacher agrees to meet and help implement the conditions of travel
  • the teacher assists the driver and bus captains in supervising students on the bus
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • the teacher provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service

Special categories applicable to government school students only

Students residing 4.8km or more from a bus route

Students residing 4.8km or more from a bus route to their nearest government school may be permitted to travel at no cost on a service with a bus stop closer to their residence travelling to an alternative school. The alternative service may take the student to the next nearest school or further if no service to the next nearest school is available. The nearer bus service must be within 4.8km of the student’s residence. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel subject to all of the following conditions:

  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students have been accommodated
  • the student lives at least 1.6km from a public transport service that could provide convenient access to and from their school at appropriate times
  • the student and the student’s parent/carer accept the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost

If a service to the nearest school is expanded and becomes the closer service than the one used under this special category, students travelling as special category travelers may continue to access the service until they have completed their time at the alternative school. New applications are subject to standard eligibility criteria.

No service provision to nearest school

Students residing in an area with no bus service running to their nearest school may be permitted to access a bus service running to an alternative school at no cost. The alternative service may take the student to the next nearest school or further if no service to the next nearest school is available. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel subject to all of the following conditions:

  • the student must reside 4.8km or more from their nearest school
  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students been accommodated
  • the student lives at least 1.6km from a public transport service that could provide convenient access to and from their school at appropriate times
  • the student and the student’s parent/carer accept the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost

If the nearest school gains a service, students not attending their nearest school are eligible to continue to access the service to the next nearest school until they have completed their time at the school. New applications are subject to standard eligibility criteria.

Students travelling beyond their next nearest school (to which there is a bus service running) can do so upon payment of a fare. Refer to the section — Ineligible passengers required to pay a fare.

Unsupervised government primary schools

Some bus services may pass a government primary school before staff are in attendance. As no supervision is available at the time students would be dropped off, coordinating principals may approve an application to travel at no cost to an alternative school. The alternative service may take the student to the next nearest primary school or further if no supervision at the next nearest school is available. The coordinating principal may approve an application subject to all of the following conditions:

  • seating is available on the service after all eligible students have been accommodated
  • the student lives at least 1.6km from a public transport service that could provide convenient access to and from their school at appropriate times
  • the student and the student’s parent/carer accept the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • the unsupervised primary school has provided written confirmation to the coordinating school that they are not willing or able to provide supervision before a particular time.

If the nearest government primary school implements supervision arrangements, current students not attending their nearest school are eligible to continue to do so until they have completed their primary school education. New applications are subject to standard eligibility criteria.

Sibling entitlement of students approved as a special category traveler

Approval of a student as a special category traveler only applies to the child in a family for whom the approval was sought. Requests for approval as a special category traveler are assessed by the coordinating principal on a case-by-case basis. Siblings of students approved as a special category traveler are not automatically approved as a special category traveler. Each family member wishing to access a school bus service must submit a separate application to the coordinating school.

See the section headed Special Category Travelers — Case Studies for examples and diagrams of situations in which a student may be approved as a special category traveller.

Ineligible passengers required to pay a fare

Students (and other individuals) who do not meet the eligibility criteria and/or do not qualify as a special category traveler may be able to access a school bus service upon payment of a fare. Fare paying travelers must pay the appropriate term fare in advance of travel to their school’s bus coordinator or delegate.

Client schools must forward collected fares to their coordinating school together with the ‘Fare Remittance Advice Form’ (see Resources) containing details of fares paid on behalf of students at the client school.

Coordinating schools must then forward the collected fares, with a completed ‘Fare Remittance Advice Form’ (see Resources), to the STU at student.transport@education.vic.gov.au​ on behalf of the school bus network.

The bus fares for 2020 are:

  • $120 per term or
  • $480 per year

The general public may also access the bus upon payment of a fare.

The order of priority to access the bus service (reversed for removal from the bus service if capacity is required for students with a higher priority of access) is as numbered below.

A fare paying passenger retains access to the bus service provided spare capacity is available, the appropriate fare is paid in advance and they continue to reside at the address listed in their application. Permission to travel and payment is on term by term basis.

Fare paying passengers cannot form part of a case for additions, retentions or modifications of services.

Students attending their next nearest government school

A government school student who is eligible for transport assistance to their nearest government school (resides 4.8km or more from that school) may be able to access a bus service to their next nearest government school upon payment of a fare. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel subject to all of the following conditions:

  • the flat rate term fare is paid prior to commencing travel
  • seating is available on the service after all students with a higher priority of access to services have been accommodated
  • the student and the student’s parent/carer accept the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • a parent/carer provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service

Students may be able to access a school bus service to their next nearest government school, at no cost, where there is no available bus service to the student’s nearest government school. Refer to the section above — 'No service provision to nearest school'.

Students attending their next nearest non-government school

A non-government student may be able to access a bus service to next nearest appropriate school upon payment of a fare. The coordinating principal may approve travel subject to all of the following conditions:

  • the flat rate term fare is paid prior to commencing travel
  • seating is available on the service after all students with a higher priority of access to services have been accommodated
  • the student and the student’s parent/carer accept the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • a parent/carer provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service

Students who live less than 4.8km from the nearest school and attend an alternate school

A student ineligible to access a service at no cost to their nearest school (resides less than 4.8km from that school) may be able to access a bus service to an alternative school upon payment of a fare. The coordinating principal may approve an application to travel subject to all of the following conditions:

  • the flat rate term fare is paid prior to commencing travel
  • seating is available on the service after all students with a higher priority of access to services have been accommodated
  • the student and the student’s parent/carer accept the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • a parent/carer provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service

General public

The general public may be permitted to travel on a school bus service upon payment of a fare. An application to travel must be forwarded to the coordinating principal who may approve it subject to the following conditions:

  • the person lives at least 1.6km from suitable public transport
  • seating is available on the service after all students with a higher priority of access to services have been accommodated
  • the applicant (and the parent/carer if under 18 years of age) accepts the conditions of travel and the authority of the coordinating principal
  • the fare as determined by PTV is paid in advance of travel
  • PTV incurs no additional cost
  • the applicant (or parent/carer if under 18 years of age) provides a written undertaking to the coordinating principal that other transport arrangements will be made if seating becomes insufficient due to an increase in the number of students with a higher priority of access to travel or a smaller vehicle is engaged for the service

No ad-hoc or occasional travel is to be provided to members of the general public.

To protect the safety of all travelling students, a non-school passenger is required to provide to the coordinating principal with a Working with Children check.

The coordinating principal has discretion to withdraw approval for a member of the public to travel on a school bus service where the coordinating principal considers that necessary to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students traveling on the service.

Insufficient seating capacity

If there is no longer sufficient bus seating capacity to accommodate fare paying passengers, the coordinating principal must advise:

  • the principals of all schools with students who are fare paying travelers using the bus service, and
  • any members of the public who are fare paying travelers using the bus service

The client school principal must advise a student’s parent/carer in writing prior to the completion of the current year. In these circumstances, the student can continue using the service for the remainder of the year.

The bus operator will make the final determination on the safe carrying capacity of the bus and must immediately inform the coordinating principal of capacity issues so that the coordinating principal can take appropriate action.

Other exceptional circumstances or appeals or special cases

Making an application

Parents/carers wishing to apply for special consideration or appeal a transport decision must make an application through their school using the following form:

Government schools who receive a written application from a parent/carer must:

  • first, have the application endorsed by their regional office (i.e. by the Area Executive Director or Regional Director), and
  • secondly, submit the application and regional endorsement to the STU at student.transport@education.vic.gov.au.

Non-government schools’ applications do not require regional endorsement and can be submitted directly by emailing student.transport@education.vic.gov.au

To appeal or seek special case consideration, applications must be made by the dates set out below under ‘Application closure dates and panel sitting dates’.

When are special case applications considered

Special case applications will be considered by the STU in the following circumstances:

  • a student has commenced the final year of the school they attend and changes residential address
  • a student is the subject of a specific court order stipulating the student must continue their education at a particular location (copy of court order is required with the application)
  • a student has moved school for reasons of:
    • genuine concern for personal safety or for the safety of other students (documentation from the original school of enrolment and the student welfare coordinator will be required to support the special consideration; information will be also accepted from external welfare agencies)
    • consistent with the staged approach recommended in the Student Engagement Policy and guidance, the school has developed flexible learning options for the student, which may include transfer of a student to another school setting (this does not include intercampus movements). This recommendation must be supported by the relevant regional director and the 2 principals of the schools involved in the student transfer.

STU endeavours to complete its consideration of the application within the term in which it is made.

Transport special case consideration panel

In all other circumstances, or if the STU determines that an application is particularly complex in nature, the STU will refer the application to an independent panel known as the Transport Special Cases Consideration Panel (the panel).

The panel is convened by the Department’s chief finance officer. Representation on the panel includes members from the Student Transport and Allowances Branch, practising principals, a representative from the Department’s Wellbeing Health and Engagement Divisions, and a representative from PTV.

The panel meets each month during Term 1 and at least once per term thereafter. Prior to a panel hearing, the STU may seek further advice from the lodging government school’s regional director. The student’s application must include applicable supporting documentation such as recommendations from the school’s student support group, and any individual education plan, behaviour support plans or other student support plans.

Incomplete applications will not be processed; the STU will contact the lodging school and request further information prior to submission of the case to the panel.

Transport assistance is not available to a student until such time as the panel meets and considers their application.

All recommendations of the Panel are forwarded to the Department’s Deputy Secretary, Financial Policy and Infrastructure Services, for approval.

The STU informs schools of the panel’s decision approximately three weeks after the panel meets.

Schools must inform families of the panel’s decision.

Application closure dates and panel sitting dates

In 2021, applications for appeals and special consideration, and the corresponding panel sitting dates, are as follows.

Term in which application considered Application closing date Panel sitting date
Term 1 2021 31 December 2020 19 January 2021
Term 1 2021 22 January 2021 16 February 2021
Term 1 2021 19 February 2021 16 March 2021
Term 2 2021 23 April 2021 18 May 2021
Term 3 2021 16 June 2021 13 July 2021
Term 3 2021 20 August 2021 14 September 2021
Term 4 2021 22 October 2021 16 November 2021

Conditions of special case approval

The following applies to special case approval:

  • Special case approval is limited to the student and transport service involved in the application.
  • Special case approval will cease if the student moves residential address, changes school or transport mode, unless the student meets eligibility requirements following the change.
  • Special case approval is not automatic. Each case will be considered on merit with reference to the transport infrastructure in the area.
Guidance chapter on how ineligible students may access the Student Bus Program

Reviewed 24 March 2021

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