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Vehicle Dimensions And Mass Amendment 2015 Questions and Answers

High Capacity Urban Buses

The changes to Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimension and Mass 2002 (the VDAM Rule):

  • allow road controlling authorities (including the NZ Transport Agency, city or district councils, and Auckland Transport) to issue permits to high capacity urban buses to allow them to exceed the general mass limits for axle sets. The permits will allow these buses to operate at a higher loading capacity on scheduled public transport routes
  • set the conditions for the new high capacity urban bus permits
  • clarify that weighing tolerances in the VDAM Rule apply to all vehicles operating under a permit to exceed general mass limits, including high capacity urban buses.

When will this amendment Rule come into force?

This Amendment Rule will come into force on 1 October 2015.

What kind of bus services are permitted under this amendment?

The amendment applies to a bus that:

  • is used on a scheduled route identified in a regional public transport plan; and
  • has at least 60 passenger seats.

Why was this amendment made?

The previous version of the VDAM rule prevented road controlling authorities from using high capacity urban buses to address capacity constraints on public transport routes.

For central city bus routes with increasing passenger numbers, adding more conventional buses eventually reduces “headway” (the space between vehicles) and results in congestion around bus stops and along the route. Moving to higher capacity buses is a more efficient option.

What are examples of high capacity buses?

There are two main types of high-capacity buses. Double-decker buses have the same “footprint” as existing conventional buses while providing an approximately 50% increase in capacity. However they are slightly less efficient for loading and unloading; there are constraints where routes have restricted height limits; and drivers also need a higher driver licence class than for a conventional bus (class 4, not class 2).

‘Bendy’ articulated buses also provide higher capacity, but they are not covered by this amendment.  This is because they take up more space than a conventional bus or a double-decker vehicle and may require major reconfiguration of parts of the road and bus stops.

What services are not eligible for permits?

Permits will not be available for passenger coaches that will be travelling along intercity highways and secondary routes.

Permits will also not be available for the conventional buses which are the most common vehicles currently used for urban bus services. These have a seating capacity (typically) of up to 48 passengers.

Won’t buses under permit create higher road wear?

Yes, higher axle loadings do create increased pavement wear. However, permits should only be issued where the road construction is sufficiently strong to bear the additional weight.

Does this affect Road User Charges (RUC) for a vehicle holding a permit?

Heavy vehicles used on New Zealand roads pay a proportional charge related to the estimated road wear they cause.

The existing RUC rates for buses are only valid for vehicles that do not exceed the standard axle weight limits. High capacity buses will be able to operate under higher axle weights. A new rate has therefore been set for these buses when operating on a permit.

Does the amendment Rule give me all the information I need to fully understand the changes?

This is an amendment Rule so it only includes the amending provisions. The amendment rule should be read in conjunction with the principal Rule; Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2002. 

Where can I get a copy of Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimension and Mass 2002?

The Rule is available from selected bookshops that sell legislation or direct from the printers, Wickliffe Solutions (telephone (06) 353 2700). Land Transport Rules are also available on the NZ Transport Agency’s website at link) (select “Consolidation (PDF)”).

How can I obtain a copy of the amendment Rule?

A copy of the amendment Rule is available for purchase from selected bookshops that sell legislation or from Wickliffe Solutions, telephone (06) 358 8231. The Rule is also available on the NZ Transport Agency’s website at: link) (under “Amendments”).

Rules may also be inspected, free of charge, at the National Office and regional offices of the NZ Transport Agency.



Last updated: 2 September 2015