School Transportation

To carry out school transportation by bus, minibus, or car, all drivers, owners and operators must comply with several requirements.

Types of vehicles that may be used for school transportation

Under the Regulation respecting road vehicles used for the transportation of school children, the following vehicles may be used for school transportation:

  • a school bus or school minibus, which are considered heavy vehicles
  • an urban bus, when the school transportation service is an integral part of the service provided by an urban transport permit holder or a public transit authority
  • a sedan or family car or a minivan with a seating capacity of 4 to 9 occupants, including a taxi
Warning

School transportation using a 15-passenger van is prohibited

In Québec, the transportation of school children between school and home or for extracurricular activities using a 15-passenger van is strictly prohibited.

For more details, consult the website of the Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l'Électrification des transports.

Characteristics of vehicles used for school transportation

School buses and school minibuses

To ensure that school buses and minibuses can be seen when school children get on or off on the side of the road, buses and minibuses used in Québec must be equipped with at least the following safety features, as prescribed by the Regulation respecting road vehicles used for the transportation of school children:

  • a body painted yellow
  • the word “ÉCOLIERS” painted across indicated in the front and rear
  • a retractable stop sign on the left side of the vehicle
  • flashing red lights in the front and rear
  • alternately flashing yellow lights in the front and rear

School buses and school minibuses must also meet the standards regarding use, construction and furnishings set forth in the:

  • Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Transport Canada)
  • Regulation respecting safety standards for road vehicles
  • Highway Safety Code

Standard D250 (Canadian Standards Association – CSA) may be consulted, but its application is not mandatory.

Warning

After 12 years of use…

A bus or minibus greater than 12 years of age may no longer be used for school transportation, as specified in the Regulation respecting student transportation.

Transportation of school children with disabilities

Buses and minibuses used for the transportation of school children with disabilities must also meet certain construction and furnishing specifications prescribed in the Regulation respecting road vehicles adapted for the transportation of handicapped persons.

Automobiles (including taxis)

Automobiles (sedan type) used for the transportation of school children must be equipped with:

  • at least 4 and not more than 9 seat belts
  • a hard roof
  • at least 3 side doors with windows

On the roof of the vehicle

From side to side across the middle of the roof, the vehicle must be equipped with:

  • a yellow sign bearing the word “ÉCOLIERS”
  • OR

  • a yellow dome light on which the word “ÉCOLIERS” is displayed in black letters

For more details, consult the Regulation respecting road vehicles used for the transportation of school children.

Useful information

Taxis used for school transportation

When a taxi is used for school transportation under a contract for the exclusive purpose of transporting school children, its owner must replace the taxi dome light with an “ÉCOLIERS” dome light, or with a yellow sign bearing the word “ÉCOLIERS”.

The vehicle thus becomes a sedan-type school transportation vehicle that must comply with the Regulation respecting road vehicles used for the transportation of school children.

Mechanical maintenance of vehicles used for school transportation

A periodic mechanical inspection must be carried out by an SAAQ-authorized road vehicle inspection agent every 6 months, regardless of the type of vehicle used.

If the vehicle is deemed compliant, a mechanical inspection certificate is issued and an inspection sticker is affixed to the vehicle.

If minor defects are detected

Repairs must be made within 48 hours and meet the requirements of our road vehicle inspection agents.

If major defects are detected

The vehicle is prohibited from road use until the repairs have been made to the satisfaction of our road vehicle inspection agents.

Preventative Maintenance Program (PMP)

Vehicle owners may implement a Preventative Maintenance Program and have it recognized by the SAAQ to be released from the requirement of submitting their vehicles to periodic mechanical inspections. The choice is theirs to make.

Other mechanical maintenance requirements may apply

Refer to the detailed information based on the type of vehicle used:

Useful information

Buses and minibuses are considered heavy vehicles

As a result, owners, operators and drivers must meet several obligations.

School transportation safety

Carrier enforcement officers and police officers are mandated to ensure school transportation safety. Among other things, they monitor vehicle compliance and use.

Driver obligations

Driver's licence

Drivers must hold the appropriate class of licence for the vehicle they use to carry out school transportation and be in good health.

The required class of licence is based on the type of vehicle

  • Class 5: passenger vehicles other than taxis
  • Class 2: buses designed to carry more than 24 passengers
  • Class 4B: buses and minibuses designed to carry 24 or fewer passengers
  • Class 4C: taxis and limousines
Warning

Zero alcohol

The zero alcohol rule applies to anyone who drives or has the care or control of a bus, a minibus or a taxi.

Certificate of competence

Drivers who carry out school transportation must also hold a certificate of competence issued pursuant to the Transport Act.

There are 2 types of certificates of competence:

  • Certificate of competence to drive a bus or minibus used for the transportation of school children, which requires:
    • 15 hours of initial training
    • 6 hours of retraining every three years thereafter
  • Certificate of competence to drive a sedan-type vehicle used for the transportation of school children, which requires:
    • 6 hours of training

To follow the training program to be issued a certificate of competence, visit:

Transportation of preschoolers

If you organize outings for a group of preschool-age children, the following information will help you determine the correct vehicle to use:

Passenger vehicle

  • The vehicle must have a sufficient number of seats equipped with seat belts and anchorage points to ensure each child is properly restrained.
  • Children whose sitting height is less than 63 cm (measured from the seat to the top of the head) must be secured in an appropriate car seat that is adapted to their weight and height.

School bus or school minibus

  • Transport Canada recommends that children weighing less than 18 kg (40 lb) or under the age of 4 ½ years be transported in a child seat attached to the school bus’s anchorage system.
  • School buses built since 2007 are equipped with anchorage systems allowing for child safety seats to be attached to school bus seats.
Useful information

Child safety seats

Effective April 18, 2019, children under 9 years of age or who are less than 145 cm tall will have to be secured in a child safety seat that is appropriate for their weight and height (an infant seat, child seat or booster seat).

For more details, consult:

Seat belts in school buses and minibuses

School buses are safe for school-age children, even without seat belts, because they feature a passive safety system known as “compartmentalization”. This system uses the benches and the interior of the bus to create a protective compartment in the event of a collision.

For more details, go to the Transport Canada website.