Bus Driver Kaitaraiwa Pahi

Bus drivers operate buses and drive passengers along local, chartered or intercity routes.

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Bus drivers may do some or all of the following:

  • visually inspect buses before driving them to make sure they are safe, clean, refuelled and ready for use
  • load and unload passengers' luggage
  • collect fares from passengers, giving them tickets and change
  • give passengers information on routes, fares and timetables
  • deliver a commentary on the area they are travelling through and answer passengers' questions
  • keep a logbook to record work time and rest breaks.


Physical Requirements

Bus drivers need to: 

  • be reasonably fit and healthy to get a medical certificate every five years
  • have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses)
  • have good hearing.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for bus drivers includes:

  • other driving work, such as taxi driving
  • customer service work
  • work in the tourism industry.

Personal Qualities

Bus drivers need to be:

  • understanding of people from different cultures and backgrounds
  • able to remain calm under pressure
  • honest and reliable
  • good at basic maths
  • good at communicating
  • friendly, polite and patient
  • alert
  • tolerant.


Bus drivers need to have:

  • excellent driving skills
  • knowledge of the Road Code and transport regulations
  • knowledge of the area they work in, the correct bus routes, and the correct fares
  • the ability to operate Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology, and multi-function ticketing systems
  • understanding of basic bus maintenance
  • knowledge of sites and attractions along their route, and New Zealand culture and history.


Bus drivers:

  • usually work shifts, including nights and weekends. Many urban bus drivers work split shifts, usually during peak morning and afternoon periods with unpaid time off in the middle
  • spend most of their time in buses and at bus depots
  • have to drive in all weather conditions
  • travel between cities and towns if they operate tour coaches or intercity buses, and may have to spend time away from home.

Bus Drivers can earn around $27-$30 per hour.

Pay for bus drivers varies depending on experience, where and how many hours they work, and what type of bus they drive.

  • Bus drivers in towns and cities usually earn $27 to $30 an hour.
  • Pay for tour coach drivers varies depending on whether they work full time or are contractors or seasonal workers.

Sources: Careers.govt.nz research; Tranzit Group; Auckland Transport, 'An additional boost to bus driver pay', 7 Sept 2022, (https://at.govt.nz); Environment Canterbury, 'Canterbury public bus drivers receive wage increase', 21 Oct 2022, (www.ecan.govt.nz); Greater Wellington Regional Council, 'Bus Driver Wages Increased By Greater Wellington', 30 Mar 2023, (www.scoop.co.nz); and 'Government to spend $61m to lift bus driver wages', 30 Oct 2022, (www.stuff.co.nz).

Bus drivers may progress to work as:

  • supervisors or managers at bus companies
  • bus inspectors
  • bus driving instructors. 

Bus drivers may specialise in driving:

  • set routes and timetables, school bus routes, or long-distance intercity routes
  • charter buses taking passengers on one-off trips such as to functions or events
  • tour coaches taking passengers on local or long-distance tours.

Years Of Training

<1 year of training required.

To become a bus driver you need to have held a clean Class 1 driver’s licence (a car licence) for two years.

Depending on the size of bus you want to drive, you also need a Class 2 or Class 4 driver’s licence.

You must also have a valid passenger (P) endorsement on your licence, which shows you can carry passengers. This involves:

  • passing a medical exam, including an eyesight test
  • a background check, to ensure you are a “fit and proper person”

Most bus companies provide driver training for license classes and usually pay drivers in training.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children. 

Bus Driver