Driving tests

Bus lane rules

Bus lanes are lanes with specific rules about which vehicles can use them. There are four types of bus lane:

  • Bus-only lanes
  • Bus lanes
  • Bus and transit
  • Busways

Bus-only lanes

Bus-only lanes are part of existing roads but designed only for buses. No other vehicles are allowed to use the lanes except to turn into or out of a side road or driveway or to cross them to park.

This sign marks a bus-only lane
Bus only lanes are sometimes painted with ‘bus only’, like this street in Wellington

Bus lanes

This bus lane also allows motorbikes and bikes
The motorway exit to Fanshawe Street includes a bus lane, painted in green
Bus lanes are marked where they start, mostly in green but sometimes not.

Transit lanes

T2 and T3 lanes are for vehicles carrying more than two or three people, respectively. This includes buses and taxis even if they are empty, plus motorbikes, mopeds and bicycles.


A busway is a dedicated road for buses that is separated from other lanes, for example, the Northern Busway north of Auckland. Only buses and service/maintenance vehicles are allowed to travel on the lanes.

Fines for using bus lanes

Council contractor recording bus lane infringements on Fanshawe Street in Auckland

If you ride or drive in a bus-only lane the infringement fine is $150.

When can you drive in a bus lane?

You can drive in a bus lane if:

  • the bus lane is only active between certain times and it’s outside those times
  • you are driving a vehicle allowed in the bus lane (e.g. motorbikes can ride in standard bus lanes)
  • you are driving an emergency vehicle such as a police car, ambulance or fire engine and you are responding to an emergency with lights and or sirens operating
  • you are making a left turn to enter a driveway or side street, in which case you can drive in the bus lane for up to 50 metres
  • the road is blocked due to an accident or road works
  • you are driving a wide vehicle and you need to use the bus lane because your load is wider than one lane.
  • a person is signalling to turn right and is either slowing down or stopping and you wish to overtake them on the left. Confirmation can be found in the legislation: 2.3(3)(a)(iii) and (b) grant you permission to drive in a lane that would usually be unavailable to you if there is a road obstruction, assuming it’s safe. 2.8(2)(b) clarifies this.

If you are turning out of a driveway or side street, or you are turning right into a side street then you can cross a bus lane.

You can’t park in a bus lane.

When are bus lanes in force?

Unless they have signage, bus lanes operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How far can you drive in a bus lane?

You can drive for 50 metres if you are turning left into a driveway or side road or to pull into a parking bay that’s not part of the bus lane.

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