Guide

Operating a bus service in Northern Ireland

Introduction

Public transport in Northern Ireland is regulated by the government. The main public bus services are operated by Translink, a government-funded organisation. To run a business as a bus operator, and to run public passenger transport services, you need to be licensed.

To become a bus operator in Northern Ireland you need a Bus Operator Licence from the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). If you want to operate your buses as public passenger transport services, you will need a Commercial Bus Service Permit from the Department for Infrastructure (DfI).

The new Service Permit system, which started on 5th October 2015, is one of the outcomes from DfI’s Public Transport Reform proposals, the introduction of the Transport Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 and the making of the Public Passenger Transport (Service Agreements and Service Permits) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015.

This guide will help you to understand what you need to do to run a bus company and a public transport service in Northern Ireland, who to contact to arrange the right permissions, and the details you’ll need to provide.