Service and Route Design

Contract school bus services are designed in consultation with the Department of Education, contractors and drivers, with the intent to pick-up and drop-off students safely.

SBS monitors the need for the services and the appropriateness and efficiency of routes.

The following factors are relevant to the design of service routes:

  • Number of students being picked up and dropped off.
  • Forecast student numbers.
  • Actual and forecast residential distribution of students.
  • Physical and intellectual capacities of students.
  • Distribution of existing contract services in the area.
  • In-vehicle journey time.  
  • Arrival and departure times of the service in relation to the start and finish times of schools. 

SBS monitors bus services regularly to ensure efficient transport is available to all students on an equal basis. If a service is underutilised one of the following actions listed below may occur:

  • The service may be withdrawn.
  • The route may be redesigned; and/or
  • The required seating capacity of the vehicle may be changed. A new bus service may be trialled when there is sufficient demand. However, if the number of students regularly using a trial service declines, it may be withdrawn or the route may be re-designed.


Safety is paramount in the design of school bus service routes, taking into account the choice of roads and the location of pick-up and drop-off points, extensions, turnarounds and terminus points. 

SBS will liaise with contractors, drivers and, where appropriate, Main Roads WA and Local Shires.

Journey times

SBS policy requires a student to be on the bus for no longer than 90 minutes. There are, however, situations where the geographic location of a student’s residence in relation to their school is such that a journey of 90 minutes or less is not possible. In such cases, when travel by a contract school bus is not feasible an eligible student would normally be entitled to a Conveyance Allowance. 

Waiting times

Routes are designed with the goal of ensuring that students do not have to wait at school for more than 30 minutes before school starts or finishes.

Route variations - applicable to mainstream services only


A spur is a section of an approved route that branches from a main route, along which a contract school bus travels and returns in order to pick up and drop off eligible students. A spur may extend to a maximum of 5km (one-way) if only one student will be using the spur. 7.5km (one-way) if two or more students will be using the spur.

Terminus extensions

The terminus of a route, is on the approved morning route of a service, is the first pick-up point for an eligible student, and, on the approved afternoon route of a service, the last drop-off point for an eligible student. A terminus may extend to a maximum of: 5km (one-way) if only one student will be using the terminus extension. 7.5km (one-way) if two or more students will be using the terminus extension. Subject to the above maximum lengths, a route can be extended up to the gate of the residence of the furthermost student along the spur.

Spurs and terminus extension conditions

  • Subject to the above maximum lengths, spurs or terminus extensions will lengthen as far as the gate of the residence of the furthermost student.
  • If a suitable turnaround cannot be built at the student’s gate, the length can vary by up to 0.3km. Spurs or terminus is only maintained if an eligible student uses it regularly.
  • Regularly is defined as 60% of the school days scheduled in a term.
  • Relocation of the spurs or terminus occurs when the furthermost student no longer uses the service regularly, moving to the gate of the next student back along the route – subject to there being a site suitable for the construction of a turnaround.
  • If a suitable turnaround cannot be constructed at this point, then the spur or terminus will be ‘brought back’ toward the main route until a suitable location is found.
  • SBS will consider a spur (only) to pick up and drop off eligible students who live more than 4.5km from their school and more than 2.5km from the existing approved route.


A spur will not be approved by SBS if it will run off (i.e. be an extension of) an existing spur.  

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