School transport: route design

Routes are designed by the Ministry of Education. Transport service providers decide where the safest stops are along the route.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Bus controllers
  • Parents, Caregivers and Whānau

Contact your school’s transportation service provider for specific route and bus stop information.


Bus routes are designed by the Ministry of Education. They are designed to transport as many eligible students as efficiently as possible.

Transport service providers decide where the safest stops are along the route. Routes usually travel down main roads and students are expected to make their own way to a central bus stop.

Route design takes into consideration:

  • location of eligible students
  • location of bus stops
  • safety
  • timetables
  • Ministry cost limits.

The route is finalised after discussion between the Regional Transport Advisor, the transport service provider, and the affected schools.

Changes to routes

Moved, shortened, or stopped

A route may be moved, shortened, or stopped if the Ministry establishes that the service isn't viable anymore. For example, there might not be enough eligible students using the bus.

If a route is changed, a Conveyance Allowance may be paid to caregivers of eligible students.

If a school bus service is shortened or stopped, a school term’s notice is normally given to the affected schools. Most services that are stopped will be timed with the end of a school year.


Schools may want to request that a bus route is extended to serve more eligible students.

Ministry services usually travel along main roads – extensions may be approved along main or side roads.

Extensions will be considered if:

  • there are four or more eligible students living on or around the proposed extension
  • the distance to the home of the furthest eligible student is at least 2.4 kilometres from the road the bus currently travels along.

Extensions may be approved if the above criteria and the other route design guidelines are met, such as safety and ability for the bus to turn.

Students may need to travel to meet the vehicle at this central point.

The decision to extend a route is made by the Ministry (Regional Transport Advisor), the transport service provider and the affected schools.


Schools can contact their transport service provider for the local timetable.

General timetable rules are:

  • students aren't picked up before 7am
  • students should be set down by 5pm
  • ideally, students shouldn't be on the vehicle longer than 60 minutes.

There may be exceptions due to local circumstances, such as route length, school starting times, and the number of schools on the route.

Route and stop information

Contact your regional transport advisor or your school’s transport service provider to find out more about a school route and its bus stops.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback