This is draft guidance, and we welcome your feedback

This section discusses the critical dimensions and performance characteristics of buses which typically operate in New Zealand.

Bus dimensions vary by bus type, but all buses operating in New Zealand must comply with the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule 2016.

Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2016

Additionally, all urban buses must comply with the vehicle standards contained in the Requirement for urban buses in New Zealand, unless a variation has been sought and approved from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Requirement for urban buses in New Zealand(external link)

Vehicle dimension parameters

The features below need to be considered when determining the amount of space required for the design of public transport facilities:

  • sketch of bicycle rack at the front of the bus adding length of the bus

    Bicycle rack at the front of the bus.

    Length of the bus, determined by the vehicle type and the additional length from a bicycle rack provided at the front of the bus.
  • Height of the bus determined by the vehicle type.
  • The normal and ‘kneeling’ step height at the doors:
    • A kneeling bus is a feature that allows the driver to lower the front corner of the bus which reduces the ‘step’ height from the kerb into the bus which improves access for customers.
  • Ramp length and gradient:
    • As outlined in the Requirement for urban buses, an electric sliding or manually operated flip-over style ≥800 mm width ramp must be provided at the front door that can be deployed and recovered by the driver on request, where the kneeling facility proves to be insufficient.
    • Information about factors that can influence the gradient, such as kerb heights, are outlined in the Bus stop design section. In general, designs should aim to achieve a gradient of no more than 1:8 or 12.5%.
  • Overhang at the front and rear of the vehicle.
  • Underside clearance of the bus to the ground.
  • Bus vehicle tracking (or manoeuvring) characteristics. 


*Unless a variation has been sought and approved from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Related guidance

Standard bus dimensions for design

It is expected that public transport facilities are designed to accommodate the ‘standard’ vehicle dimensions, including provision of a bicycle rack to account for future proofing.

Note that the Vehicle Dimensions and Mass Rule and the Requirement for urban buses take precedence over the dimensions contained in the table below if there are any discrepancies.

It is recommended that designers confirm the current and future public transport fleet characteristics early in the design process. There are certain bus vehicle types such as articulated buses and coaches, where the designer may need to consider a ‘non-standard’ design. To design for articulated vehicles and/or coaches, it is recommended that the designer source further vehicle dimension information specific to these ‘non-standard’ vehicles from the relevant manufacturers prior to commencing any infrastructure design work.

Within this guidance, unless indicated otherwise, the layouts and guidance provided in the table below are based on the ‘standard’ dimensions for single-deck and double-deck buses.

Vehicle characteristics and dimensions

Vehicle characteristics ‘Standard’ bus dimensions
Small single deck bus Large single deck bus Double deck bus
Length – vehicle only 10.0m 13.5m 12.5m
Length – vehicle with bicycle rack 11.0m 14.5m 13.5m
Width (including mirrors) 2.85m 2.85m 2.85m
Height 3.4m 3.4m 4.3m
Front overhang 2.5m 2.7m 2.5m
Rear overhang 2.5m 3.0m 2.5m
Ground clearance 75mm (at axles) 75mm (at axles) 75mm (at axles)
Front door height – normal and kneeling 320370mm (normal) and 245-280mm (kneeling) 320370mm (normal) and 245280mm (kneeling) 320-370mm (normal) and 245280mm (kneeling)
Rear door height 350mm 350mm 350mm
Turning circle (wall to wall)* 22.0m 25.0m 25.0m

* Based on manufacturers specifications at low operating speeds.

Single-deck bus

Yellow single-deck bus with bike on the front

Double-deck bus

A yellow double desk bus on the road

Example of ‘standard’ bus types applicable to the NZ Public Transport Design Guidelines (Credit: Lorelei Schmitt)


Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Dimensions and Mass 2016

Requirement for urban buses in New Zealand(external link)

Door location

The location of doors on urban buses is an important consideration when thinking about the design of interchanges and accessible bus stops.

At bus stops, the area around doors should be kept clear of obstructions to allow passengers to board and alight. The location of doors determines where tactile pavers should be placed in order to assist customers with limited vision to locate the front door.

The image below shows the typical location of front and rear doors for urban buses in New Zealand. Front doors are generally located forward of the front axle and immediately opposite to the driver. Rear doors are generally located in front of the rear wheels. Due to the varying layouts of urban buses, the location of the rear door for some makes of bus may differ from typical layouts which should be factored into designs.

Typical front and rear door location on buses

Typical front and rear door location (Adapted from New South Wales State Transit, Bus Infrastructure Guide)

Bus swept-path analysis and tracking

Bus vehicle tracking and swept-path analysis should be undertaken to convert vehicle characteristics and dimensions into specific design requirements for bus stop and layover infrastructure.

Tracking involves simulating the path or position of a vehicle’s tyres to ensure there is enough space (horizontally) for it to manoeuvre safely and efficiently, particularly when undertaking turning movements and tight manoeuvres on the road surface. The swept-path envelope is used to indicate, for example, when buses navigate tight corners the front swing and tail swing of the bus can extend over the kerb line or lane centre line which can conflict with other road users, roadside structures or street furniture.

A key consideration in the process of vehicle tracking is the speed with which the bus can (or intends to) undertake a manoeuvre. Typically, the slower the speed, the tighter the manoeuvre a bus can undertake, albeit with consequential impacts on front and rear swing.

The following are typical bus operating speeds used to assess the impact of how the vehicle tracks:

  • 5 km/h for tight vehicle turns such as manoeuvring in a depot
  • 15 km/h for standard vehicle turns such as at urban intersections
  • 30 km/h + (speed limit considered) for operating speed turns.

Once the speed and vehicle dimensions have been identified, tracking can be undertaken using specialist design software. For simple and regularly used movements, a template can be developed and applied to the design like that shown in the image below.

Note: The template should clearly identify the key design vehicle assumptions and the speed at which the turning movement is representative of. If any of these assumptions are not applicable to a situation then a different template should be developed, or new vehicle tracking undertaken using specialist design software.

Black and white sketch of turning template for 12.5m bus

Turning template for 12.5m bus. (Source: Brisbane City Council Standard Drawings.)

When interpreting and applying the results of bus vehicle tracking the following should be considered:

  • Allowance of 0.5m clearance envelope around the tracking envelope of the vehicle body to provide space for vehicle wing mirrors, bus tilt and driver error. Some encroachment into the clearance envelope may be acceptable in low speed situations, subject to approval of the relevant road controlling authority;
  • Allowance of 1.0m clearance between the tracking envelope of the vehicle bodies for opposing bus movements (eg left turn and right turn simultaneous movement).

Should there be any residual ambiguity or concerns about the safety and efficiency of a proposed manoeuvre then it is recommended that tracking is undertaken via a real ‘bus test’ on the ground.

Tracking templates

These vehicle tracking templates are for trucks and coach buses but not urban buses. Auckland Transport uses 12.6m bus and a 13.5m rear-steer buses as the design vehicles for urban bus routes.

Urban and rural roadway design(external link) (see page 10)