Back to School changes to buses

Thursday 27 January 2022

With term one around the corner, students and families are prepping to go back to school. Bus Talk this week has crucial information for students who will be bussing to school in 2022, so please read on!

Changes to school buses

You may have seen news that dedicated, paid school bus services operated by Otago Road Services ceased at the end of last year. This means some students who catch the bus to school may need to use the Otago Regional Council’s public transport network from Term 1.

While the dedicated school routes sit outside the Council’s public transport network, we are trying to fill the gaps and help as much as we can to make things run smoothly.  

Some solutions involve our Orbus public transport network, where students need to purchase a Bee Card to get the best fares when catching the bus.


Who is affected?

Most schools have information about changes to school buses on their website or through their newsletters, so please check these places. If your child paid a bus fare to catch a bus provided by Otago Road Services in the past, then their route will definitely be affected. If you are unsure, we recommend checking in with your school well in advance of the first day of term.

Existing Orbus services (routes 5D, 6E, 6D and 40C) are not affected and will operate as normal.


First-timers on the public bus

Students who caught dedicated school buses last term may be hopping on the public transport network for the first time. Here are a few tips to make it easy:

Get a Bee Card - A Bee Card can be purchased from the ORC office on Level 2 of Philip Laing House, DCC customer service centres (including libraries in Mosgiel, Port Chalmers and Blueskin Bay) or the University Bookshop for $5. Bee Cards can also be purchased from (plan for postage time) or on the bus with cash only.

The Bee Card makes tagging on and off the bus a breeze, provides cheaper rates than paying cash, and allows parents to manage funds and top-up their child’s account as needed.

Enjoy a youth concession – Load the Bee Card with a youth concession online at or with help from our Customer Services team. Children aged 5-18 years old will pay lower fares with a registered Bee Card.

Know your route – School students may need to transfer between buses, or walk from a different bus stop to school. Knowing their new route in advance will help things run smoothly on the first day of school, and they can also use the Transit smartphone app to plan their journey and keep track of it in real time.

Transfers - If you have to transfer from one bus to another, your Bee Card will help. Tag on the second bus with your Bee Card within 45 minutes of tagging off the first and you won’t pay again (make sure to tag off both buses).


Be COVID ready

Passengers on all buses on our Orbus public transport network must follow national COVID-19 safety protocols, which require wearing a face covering while on the bus, and scanning on to the bus with the NZ COVID Tracer app.


Still have questions?

We’re here to help make the change easier for affected school students. Visit our website for more information, or call our 24/7 helpline, 0800 ORBUSDN (0800 672 8736).