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Auto Know: Who can drive a school bus?

Published April 8, 2013

Q: A past column stated that a retired school bus could be driven with a “G” licence if there were less than nine seats/passengers. Does this apply to mini school buses only or also to full-size buses?

A: Ontario Transportation Ministry spokesperson Bob Nichols replies:

A retired school bus can be driven with a Class G driver’s licence if it meets all of the following conditions:

The designed seating capacity is no more than nine passengers excluding the driver.

The vehicle is not used for school purposes. That is, not operated by or under contract with a school board or other authority in charge of a school while they are being used to transport children, or adults with a developmental disability.

The bus is no longer chrome yellow.

All school bus equipment has been removed. This includes overhead red warning lamps, stop arm, and signage with the words “School Bus” or “Do not pass when signals flashing.”

The registered gross weight or actual gross weight does not exceed 11,000 kg.

Eric Lai adds:

So, yes, if you remove all but nine rear seats and carry no more than nine passengers (plus the driver), you can legally drive a full-size school bus with a “G” licence – provided it does not have air brakes. Though it’s not mandatory, additional training in operating a large bus is strongly advised as you will be liable if an at-fault collision occurs.

Incidentally, this was an exercise on the TV show “Canada’s Worst Driver” where the “G” licenced participants had to navigate a full-size former school bus through a tight obstacle course. Not surprisingly, these self-confessed bad drivers didn’t do too well.

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