In NSW, children under 16 years of age do not have to use booster seats or child restraints in buses, but it is recommended that they do so and occupy the rear seats of the bus. Buses are vehicles with more than 12 seats, including the driver.
In NSW, a driver of a bus that seats more than 12 adults (including the driver) is not required to ensure passengers, including those under 16 years of age are in a restraint. It is recommended that where a restraint is available, it should be worn.
A parent with a baby will have to nurse the infant and must occupy the rear seats first without sharing the seatbelt.
Parents with children from twelve months (1 year) to seven (7 years) are recommended to bring their own child booster seat for their own child’s safety and also occupy the back seats first and be restrained as best as possible. All buses over 12 seats do not have fixed anchor points for fixed child restraints unless they have been installed after-market by the bus company.
Most bus companies will have a few booster seats available for use but it is best to bring your own and most bus companies will let you keep it in the bus ready for the return trip.
In NSW a bus is classified as a vehicle with 13 or more seats. In NSW the standard C Class licence allows the driver to drive a vehicle with 12 seats, including the driver (11 passengers + 1 driver). Above this limit requires an LR (Light Ridged) class licence. The most common minibus and by far the most popular is the Toyota Hiace Commuter. These are manufactured 14 seaters (13 passengers + 1 driver) and require an LR licence to drive. If you remove 2 rear seats (not folded up or stowed) it becomes a 12 seater which allows a standard C Class licence. However, once the 2 seats are removed (usually a pair of the back seats) by law you are required to have at least three anchor points installed for fix child restraints and require an engineer’s report that is to remain in the vehicle at all times.
In NSW a bus must be accredited to carry public passengers (paid passengers) and must be over 12 seats otherwise it falls under the Point to Point ride sharing laws in which case all NSW laws regarding child restraints applies.
There are two types of accreditation in 4 categories:
1. Regular Route Services (Type 1)
• STA (Sydney) Buses (ST number plates) & Contracted Route Services (MO number plates)
2. Long Distance, Tour & Charter (Type 2)
• Long Distance Service (TV number plates)
• Tourist Service (TV number plates)
• Charter Service (TV number plates)
An accredited bus under Type 2, category have the same laws as the government STA and route services (Type 1) which do not require seatbelts to be worn unless they are fitted with seatbelts in which case restraints must be worn.
Unlike regular Route Services (Type 1 accreditation), prams cannot be used as restraints on charter buses (Type 2 services) and must be folded, wheel locked and stowed as not to become a projectile in an emergency brake situation.
The NSW Government is providing funding for all NSW regional and rural school buses to be fitted with seatbelts by December 2021. What the follow-on means for city buses and private bus charter and hire companies in Sydney is yet to be known.