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The Passenger Conduct Code for School Bus Services (the Code) sets out the expected standards of behaviour for students when using a bus. It also provides guidance and processes for bus operators and drivers to follow when a student breaches the Code.

Download the Passenger Conduct Code for School Bus Services (PDF 1.7MB).

1About the Code

Bus travel is an integral part of how many students get to and from school each day. A significant number of Tasmanian students travel on buses to attend school, and all students have the right to feel safe while waiting for, travelling on, boarding and disembarking from buses.

The Passenger Conduct Code for School Bus Services (the Code) sets out the expected standards of behaviour for students when using a bus. It also provides guidance and processes for bus operators and drivers to follow when a student breaches the Code. This ensures that all students, and breaches of the Code, are treated in a fair and consistent manner. All operators of School Bus Services have adopted the Code as conditions of travel for the purposes of regulation 11 of the Passenger Transport Services Regulations 2013.

The Code has been developed by the Department of State Growth in consultation with the Tasmanian Bus Association (TasBus), the Department of Education, Catholic Education Tasmania and contracted school bus operators. A shared understanding between all stakeholders of the expectations of students travelling on buses – and the consequences for any inappropriate behaviour – is essential for ensuring compliance with the Code.

The majority of students behave appropriately when travelling on buses. Unfortunately, there are times when this does not happen. This can affect the safety and comfort of other passengers, as well as the driver. When students do not have access to a safe bus service this can affect their sense of well-being, which may impact on their ability to learn and places pressure on parents/carers to find alternative means of transport.

2Application of the Code

Bus operators are contracted by the Department of State Growth (State Growth) to provide school bus services under the Passenger Transport Services Act 2011. Compliance with the Code is a requirement of the bus operator’s school bus services contract.

The Code is designed as a framework for students, parents, caregivers, drivers and bus operators to follow – it is not an exhaustive list of behaviours. Consequences for inappropriate behaviour apply only to the behaviours exhibited by students while using bus services. The behaviours outlined in the Code also apply while, boarding and disembarking the bus.

The Code and actions under it, only concerns rights and responsibilities of users and providers of school bus services. Operators, drivers, parents, and schools should also be mindful of any reporting obligations they may have under other statutory regimes such as the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1997 and the Criminal Code Act 1924 in relation to inappropriate behaviour by or directed at school children.

3Standards of student behaviour

Students and parents/carers are responsible for the safe arrival at, and departure from bus stops, and while boarding and disembarking the bus. The attitude and behaviours of students not only affect their own safety and wellbeing, but also the comfort, safety and wellbeing of others.


Safe behaviour when waiting for the bus
  • Leave home with plenty of time to get to the bus stop, and always walk on the footpath where possible.
  • Wait at the stop until your bus arrives, even if the bus is running late.
  • Remain quiet and orderly while waiting for the bus, including at bus interchanges.
  • Buses have an over-hang at the front. This means that when the bus is pulling into the stop the front of the bus might come up over the footpath slightly. This is why you must:
    • Stand well back from the road when waiting for the bus (one metre or more where possible).
    • Wait until the bus stops completely before approaching the door.
    • Allow other passengers to leave the bus before stepping onto the bus in a single line.

Safe behaviour on board the bus
  • Always treat the driver with respect. They have the important job of getting you and others to and from school safely.
  • Speak quietly and do not create unnecessary noise that may distract the driver. If playing music, use headphones or keep it at a low volume.
  • Move towards the back of the bus (or as instructed by the bus driver) and take your seat. Remain in your seat, wear a seatbelt where seatbelts are fitted, and do not move around the bus unnecessarily.
  • If you do not have a seat, move toward the back of the bus and hold on to the handgrip.
  • School bags should be placed under the seat, in the racks, or on your lap. They must not block the aisles, doors or emergency exits.
  • Make sure you know where the emergency exit is in case you ever need to use it.
  • Always show care, courtesy and common sense while travelling on the bus, including using appropriate language when speaking to other passengers. Swearing is not tolerated or acceptable behaviour on the school bus.
  • Always keep your feet on the ground and your limbs within the bus.
  • Take all rubbish with you when leaving the bus.
  • Avoid eating or drinking except for medical reasons or where the bus driver gives you permission.
  • Report any vandalism of the bus to your driver when it is safe to do so.
  • Sit in a designated seat if instructed by the bus driver.

Safe behaviour when leaving the bus
  • Wait until the bus has stopped before moving to exit the bus. Be aware of outside conditions at your stop and exit in an orderly fashion.
  • Once you are of the bus, stand back from the road and the bus.
  • Never cross the road until the bus has moved away and you can see clearly in all directions.
  • Cross the road where and when it is safe to do so, use crossings/traffic lights where available.
  • If an adult meets you at the bus stop, make sure they have read the special safety message below.

What to do in an emergency
  • Stay calm and listen to all instructions given by the bus driver and follow them closely.
  • If the driver is hurt, leave the bus, assemble in a group in a safe place away from the bus, dial 000 and wait for help to arrive.
  • If someone on your bus is hurt or ill, tell the driver where they are and what is wrong with them. Do not move the person who is hurt.

Special safety message for parents/carers about bus stop pick ups
  • Meeting your children at the bus stop is terrific but please wait for them on the same side of the road as the bus stop and do not park in the bus parking bay. The bus needs plenty of room to get in and out of these areas.
  • Where children travel on a service to a State Support School, parent or carer must meet the bus to assist with boarding and disembarking.
  • Look out for the lights flashing on the outside of the bus which means children are leaving or boarding the bus.
  • Parking opposite the bus stop can be dangerous and is one of the most frequent causes of accidents at bus stops. Children are often anxious to see you after school and may run across the road to meet you.
  • If you have to park on the other side of the road, exit your vehicle, cross the road and wait on the same side as the bus stop.
  • It may also be wise to establish a designated waiting place with your child that is close to the bus stop. As well as preventing them from running across the road to meet you, this also gives them somewhere to wait in the event that you are late to meet them.
  • Older children should also be reminded that their behaviour will influence the actions of the smaller children who see them as role models.
  • Please help us to keep your child safe by reminding them of the guidelines in this document.
  • Buses are contracted to follow an approved route and timetable. Please do not ask drivers to carry your child at other times or to keep them on the bus outside of the contracted service to fit in with work or personal arrangements. This is not an authorised nor appropriate use of the school bus service.

Using bus passes and tickets

It is important that you:

  • Show your student bus pass or ticket (if applicable) to the driver upon boarding.
  • Use the student bus pass only for its intended purpose. Do not lend your pass to other students or borrow a pass from them.

Students with disability

Parents/carers, schools and bus operators, should work together to ensure that the bus driver is aware of all actions they might take to ensure the safety of all students on the bus, and to ensure that students with disability travel safely with respect and dignity.

In relation to behaviour that constitute a violation of the Code (refer ‘Consequences on inappropriate behaviour’, below), bus drivers should consider whether the student’s disability (including behavioural disorders that have been communicated to the bus operator by the school, parent or carer) contributed to the behaviour. In such cases the application of penalties may not be appropriate and the bus operator should meet with the school and parents/carers to discuss how to best manage such behaviour.

For example, changes to seating arrangements or support from bus attendants may be appropriate to assist in supporting students to maintain calm behaviour during transport to and from school.

If ongoing behaviours of concern arise from students with disability, a risk assessment and/or individual transport/behaviour support plan can be negotiated with the bus operator, school, and parents/carers.

4Roles and responsibilities

Roles

Parents and carers should ensure their children know and behave in accordance with the Code.

Students must behave courteously, respectfully and in accordance with the Code.

Bus operators are responsible for ensuring the quality operation of bus services, and that student behaviour is managed in accordance with the Code.

Bus drivers are responsible for the general operation of the bus.

Schools can provide assistance in managing breaches of the Code in consultation with the relevant bus operator and parents/carers.

State Growth administers contracted public transport services in Tasmania.


Responsibilities

Parents and carers

  • Have primary responsibility for the behaviour of their children.
  • To ensure their children are capable of travelling independently on the bus.
  • Should discuss the Code with their children so they clearly understand what they should and should not do.
  • Will communicate respectfully with the bus operator, driver, school and State Growth staff.
  • Will be available for discussions about the behaviour of their children.
  • Co-operate with the school and bus operator in managing student misconduct.
  • Make alternative travel arrangements for a child suspended from the bus.

Students

  • To follow reasonable instructions from the driver.
  • To sit or remain where directed (or exit, the bus in case of emergency).
  • To respect self and others, including their property.
  • To communicate respectfully with others.
  • To report any unsafe or inappropriate behaviour to the driver or their school.
  • To accept any consequences for bus misconduct.

Bus operators

  • To ensure their drivers are appropriately trained and supported in implementing the Code.
  • Must keep clear records of behaviour incidents involving school students, including actions taken.
  • To communicate respectfully with students, parents/carers and schools to collaboratively manage student behaviour on buses.
  • Will enforce and apply the code fairly and evenly to all passengers.

Bus drivers

  • Will drive in a safe manner and take reasonable care for the safety of the passengers in accordance with the provisions of the law.
  • Will treat students fairly and with respect, including communicating in a clear, appropriate and respectful manner.
  • Will provide reasonable direction to ensure the safety and comfort of all passengers.
  • To ensure that all incidents of inappropriate behaviour (even minor ones) are reported to the bus operator in the manner required by the company.

Schools

  • Assist bus operators where appropriate, to manage student behaviour, e.g. assist to identify students involved in an incident and forward communication from Bus Operators to parents/ carers.
  • Schools can also assist by:
    • Ensuring the school community is aware of the Code and how to access it.
    • Communicating with students about the importance of adhering to the Code.

State Growth

  • Will maintain the Code for student behaviour on buses in Tasmania.
  • Will monitor bus operators’ application of the Code and manage escalated complaints where appropriate.
  • Provide support and assistance to the bus industry.

5Categories of inappropriate behaviour

This Code categorises inappropriate behaviour into three categories.

In determining the category of behaviour, each incident is assessed individually. Consideration is to be given to the context of the specific incident, the seriousness of the behaviour, and the extent of the threat to driver and passenger safety or physical property.

These categories may apply to individuals or groups of students acting inappropriately. Please note that the lists of examples are not intended to be exhaustive but are used as a guide only.

Category 1: Irresponsible, offensive or nuisance behaviour, but not likely to cause harm.
Category 2: Dangerous or destructive behaviour, which may cause harm to property and/ or others.
Category 3: Immediately life threatening or illegal behaviour.


Category 1 – Unacceptable behaviour

This category includes minor offences, and behaviour that may be irresponsible, offensive or a nuisance but not physically dangerous. Examples include:

  • Distracting the driver by calling out or making persistent noise.
  • Eating or drinking, except for medical reasons or where the bus driver has given permission.
  • Displaying materials of an offensive, obscene, threatening, abusive or defamatory nature, including on a device such as mobile phone, tablet or laptop computer. *
  • Using offensive language or offensive body language.
  • Intimidation and harassment of other passengers, such as name calling, teasing and bullying. *
  • Pressing the stop button continually or unnecessarily.
  • Damaging property belonging to others (e.g. causing non-permanent and low-value damage).
  • Playing music loudly.
  • Spraying deodorant or perfume.
  • Littering or leaving rubbish on the bus.
  • Failing to show student bus pass or ticket.
  • Refusing to obey the reasonable instructions of the driver (note – repeated refusal falls under Category 2).
  • Behaving so to adversely affect the comfort or safety of other passengers, such as not respecting the personal space of others or not giving up seats to others with greater need.
  • Taking photos or videos of other passengers or the driver without permission and sharing or posting online.*

Category 2 – Dangerous and destructive behaviour

This category includes more serious offences but is not limited to behaviour that may cause an element of danger to individuals or property. Examples include:

  • Allowing any part of the body or some other object to protrude from the bus while the bus is in motion.
  • Stopping others from disembarking at their stop.
  • Verbally threatening the driver or other passengers.
  • Standing on the bus steps or in areas not set aside for standing, or refusing to sit down.
  • Moving around the bus when it is in motion.
  • Pushing and shoving when boarding, travelling on, or exiting the bus.
  • Swinging on bus handrails.
  • Vandalism of the bus, such as window etching or writing on the back of seats.
  • Throwing things inside or out of the bus.
  • Causing significant damage to property (e.g. permanent damage requiring replacement or repair).
  • Deliberately evading paying a fare where due.
  • Repeatedly refusing to obey the reasonable instructions of the driver.
  • Smoking, vaping or using cigarette lighters, matches or firelighters on the bus.

Category 3 – Highly dangerous, illegal or life-threatening behaviour
This category includes major offences and highly dangerous behaviour. Examples include:
  • Assaulting the driver or other passengers.
  • Serious bullying, intimidation, and harassment of other passengers (e.g. threats of violence).*
  • Interfering with the driving controls, emergency door release and other safety equipment.
  • Recklessly or negligently endangering the safety of other passengers or themselves.
  • Carrying a weapon (including replica weapons) or dangerous items.
  • Using matches, lighters, or other flammable items.
  • Destruction of property (e.g. damage that causes immediate disruption to the service).
  • Indecently exposing body parts.*

* Behaviour of this type may trigger other statutory reporting obligations.

6Consequences of inappropriate behaviour

Compliance with the Code is a condition of travel for the purposes of regulation 11 of the Passenger Transport Services Regulations 2013. If a student breaches the Code, the bus operator may act in accordance with these guidelines. Depending on the gravity of the offence, students may be refused travel on the bus for a period of time as determined by the bus operator.

The bus operator must provide written notification to the parents/carers before a student’s school bus privileges can be withdrawn. If the bus operator is unable to contact the parents/carers, they may provide written notice to the school so that the school can communicate with the parents/carers instead.

When suspending a student, the bus operator must adhere to the requirements of the Passenger Transport Services Regulations 2013. These Regulations require that a suspension must:

  • be in writing
  • specify which bus service the suspension relates to
  • specify the period for which the student will be unable to travel on the bus service, noting that this period cannot exceed three months.

The penalties in the table below reflect the category of inappropriate behaviour, offence and penalty. They ensure that all students who misbehave are dealt with in a fair and consistent manner.


Table of penalties for school student misbehaviour
Category of inappropriate behaviour Type of offencePenalty
Nuisance and offensive behaviour First incident Verbal warning
Repeated incident within four (4) school weeks Written warning
Three or more incidents within ten (10) school weeks Up to five days suspension
Dangerous and destructive behaviour First incident Written warning and possible suspension (up to five days)
Second and subsequent offences within the same school year Up to four weeks suspension
Highly dangerous, illegal, or life-threatening behaviour First and subsequent offences Up to three months suspension

Procedures for managing inappropriate behaviour

Bus operators are responsible for managing inappropriate behaviour in accordance with the Code, and for maintaining accurate records of breaches and the actions taken.

Sample templates for bus drivers and bus operators to record incidents, document written warnings, suspension notices and meeting records are provided in the Bus operator templates section below.

Category 1 – Nuisance and offensive behaviour

First incident

Bus Driver

  • Give the student a verbal warning. Verbal warnings should be clear and specific.
  • Can take immediate minor disciplinary action (e.g. student required to sit in designated seat).
  • Record the student’s name, details of the incident and action taken using the Code’s incident report template.
  • Provide the incident report to the operator within 24 hours or as soon as possible after.

Bus Operator

  • Retain copy of report for operator records.
One or more documented incidents to proceed.
Repeated incident within four school weeks

Bus Driver

  • Can take immediate minor disciplinary action (e.g. student required to sit in designated seat).
  • Advise student they will be receiving a written warning.
  • Record the student’s name, details of the incident and action taken using the Code’s incident report template.
  • Provide the incident report to the Operator within 24 hours or as soon as possible after.

Bus Operator

  • Must, within three days, provide copies of the written warning to the student, parent/carer and school using the Code’s written warning template.
  • May initiate ongoing minor disciplinary action (e.g. student required to sit in designated seat on continued basis).
  • May choose to meet with the school principal or nominee and parent/carer to discuss alternative
    strategies (a record of the meeting must be kept using the Code’s meeting record template).
  • In the case of a student with disability, meet with the school nominee to discuss appropriate
    strategies.
  • Must retain a copy of incident reports, meeting records and written warnings for operator records.
Three or more documented incidents to proceed.
Three or more incidents within 10 school weeks

Bus Driver

  • Must record student’s name, date, details of the incident and action taken using the Code’s incident report template.
  • Must provide the incident report to the Operator within 24 hours or as soon as possible after.

Bus Operator 

  • Must, within 24 hours or as soon as possible after, provide copies of the suspension notice to the school, parent/carer and State Growth using the Code’s suspension notice template.
    • It must be made clear to the student when the suspension or other disciplinary action begins.
    • The suspension is to be a maximum of five days.
  • May choose to meet with the school principal or nominee and parent/carer to discuss alternative
    strategies (a record of the meeting must be kept using the Code’s meeting record template).
  • In the case of a student with disability, meet with the school nominee to discuss appropriate strategies.
  • Must retain a copy of incident reports, meeting records and written warnings for operator records.

Category 2 – Dangerous and destructive behaviour

First incident

Bus Driver

  • Must record student’s name, date, details of the incident and action taken using the Code’s incident
    report template.
  • Must provide the incident report to the Operator within 24 hours or as soon as possible after.

Bus Operator

  • Must, within 24 hours or as soon as possible after, provide copies of the written warning or suspension notice (if applicable) to the school, parent/carer and State Growth using the Code’s suspension notice template.
    • It must be made clear to the student when the suspension or other disciplinary action begins.
    • The suspension is to be a maximum of five days.
  • May choose to meet with the school principal or nominee and parent/carer to discuss alternative strategies (a record of the meeting must be kept using the Code’s meeting record template).
  • Must retain a copy of incident reports, meeting records and written warnings for operator records.
One or more documented incidents to proceed.
Second and subsequent offences within school year

Bus Driver

  • Must record student’s name, date, details of the incident and action taken using the Code’s incident
    report template.
  • Must provide the incident report to the Operator within 24 hours or as soon as possible after.

Bus Operator

  • Must, within 24 hours or as soon as possible after, provide copies of the suspension notice to the subsequent school, parent/carer and State Growth using the Code’s suspension notice template.
    • It must be made clear to the student when the suspension or other disciplinary action begins.
    • The suspension is to be a maximum of four weeks.
  • May choose to meet with the school principal or nominee and parent/carer to discuss alternative
    strategies (a record of the meeting must be kept using the Code’s meeting record template).
  • In the case of a student with disability, meet with the school nominee to discuss appropriate
    strategies.
  • Must retain a copy of incident reports, meeting records and written warnings for operator records.

Category 3 – Highly dangerous, illegal or life-threatening behaviour

First incident

Bus Driver

  • Must take all reasonable measures to ensure the safety of passengers in line with the Operator’s Emergency Management Plan.
  • Must, in an extreme emergency, contact Tasmania Police by way of telephone or radio and follow Police instructions.
  • Must record student’s name, date, details of the incident and action taken using the Code’s incident report template.
  • Must provide the incident report to the Operator within 24 hours or as soon as possible after.

Bus Operator

  • Must immediately advise the parent/carer and the school that the parent/carer must make alternative arrangements for the student’s travel and follow up with the written suspension notice within 24 hours or as soon as possible after.
    • The suspension to be a maximum of three months.
  • Must liaise with school principal or nominee to ensure the welfare of other students.
  • May choose to meet with the school principal or nominee and parent/carer to discuss alternative strategies (a record of the meeting must be kept using the Code’s meeting record template).
  • In the case of a student with disability, meet with the school nominee to discuss appropriate strategies.
  • Must retain a copy of incident reports, meeting records and written warnings for operator records.
  • Must immediately notify State Growth if Police are involved and provide State Growth with a copy of the suspension notice.

Review process

If parents/carers want information about the application of this Code to a behavioural incident they should contact the bus operator.

If a parents/carer does not agree with the application of the Code, they should discuss with the bus operator in the first instance.

If the parent/carer has attempted to resolve an issue directly with a bus operator, and believes the Code has not been applied correctly, they may write to State Growth, via:

  • Email: ptscontracts@stategrowth.tas.gov.au
  • Post: Passenger Transport, GPO Box 1242, Hobart TAS 7001

State Growth will review the procedure taken by the bus operator to ensure it aligns with the Code. In doing so, State Growth will require the bus operator to provide a copy of its records relating to the behaviour of the student (including CCTV where appropriate).

7Closed circuit television (CCTV)

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras are one of a number of measures that help to reduce unacceptable behaviour on buses. State Growth requires CCTV to be installed on some buses and State Growth will communicate this requirement to each bus operator individually.

Bus operators and State Growth may review images derived from bus security cameras (where installed and where a bus operator is contractually required to provide footage) to substantiate claims of a breach of the Code.

Bus operators must ensure they comply with any guidelines established by State Growth for the use of bus security camera systems. Compliance with the Personal Information Protection Act 2004 is required.

Where CCTV is a requirement, the State Growth Passenger Service Contract Standard Conditions stipulate that the Operator must, in relation to each Trip, record video footage of the interior of the Approved Vehicle, or Alternative Vehicle, being used to operate that Trip.

The Approved Monitoring Equipment must be configured so that, in respect of the Trip, the recorded video footage, at a minimum, records:
1. the picking up and setting down of passengers
2. any payment made by a passenger to the driver of the Approved Vehicle or Alternative Vehicle (but not necessarily the amount paid)
3. the date and time the footage was taken.

The footage taken by the Operator, must be stored by the Operator for the period of 45 days commencing on the date the footage was recorded.

Parents/carers are not permitted to view CCTV footage recorded by bus operators. If a parent/carer believes a serious breach of the Code has occurred, this must be raised with the bus operator.

8Bus operator templates

State Growth has provided sample templates for use by bus operators when recording student behaviour incidents, meetings, or when issuing a written warning or suspension notice under this Code. Templates can be completed digitally or printed and hand written.

There is no requirement that bus operators use these templates. Bus operators may continue to use their own incident reports, meeting records, written warnings and suspension notices, provided they reflect the same level of detail as the templates provided by State Growth.


Templates

Incident report

Written warning

Suspension notice

Meeting record

9Copyright and disclaimer

Copyright in this publication is owned by the Crown in Right of Tasmania, represented by the Department of State Growth.

Information in this publication is intended for general information only and does not constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. No representation or warranty is made as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of any information in this publication. Readers should make their own enquiries and seek independent professional advice before acting on or relying upon any of the information provided.

The Crown, its officers, employees and agents do not accept any liability however arising (including, without limitation, for negligence) for any loss in connection with or arising out of any use of, or reliance upon, any information in this publication.