Can we use a bus lane?

  • Bus lanes on general purpose roads and “Buses only” roads are reserved for ‘buses’ and also, where indicated on the signs, pedal cycles and taxis. 

    A ‘bus’ in the context of these regulations includes all passenger vehicles with more than 8 passenger seats as well as any local buses not so constructed or adapted when operating a registered local service. 

    The lanes are clearly marked with special signs which indicate times of operation and it is an offence for other vehicles to use them at these times except for taxis and cyclists if the sign so indicates. 

    County councils, unitary authorities’ councils, metropolitan county councils and in Scotland, regional councils may make local traffic regulations orders to restrict lane use to “local” buses and to control picking up and setting down points used by buses providing local and/or other services and excursions and tours services. 

    If a bus lane is marked as ‘Local’ then only buses operating on a local registered bus service may use the lane, if this is the case a minibus or bus operated using a section 19 permit cannot use it. 

    Minibuses and buses operated using section 19 permits are allowed to use bus lanes as they are within the definition of a ‘bus’.  An accessible minibus which has had seats removed for the carriage of passengers who are using their wheelchair as a seat will still be, by definition, a bus as the legislation states that they have to be constructed or adapted to carry more than 8 passengers. 

    In NI there are different regulations around the use of bus lanes, dependent on the type of bus lane and time of use. Find out more here: