Motor Carrier - Passenger

The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (“NSUARB" or “Board") is responsible for the regulation of all public passenger carriers within the Province and interprovincial carriers operating to or from Nova Scotia. Carriers are broadly defined to include commercial bus companies, school bus operations, and van pools with a capacity of 9 or more passengers (excluding the driver). The mandate includes licensing, approving fares, routes, stops, and equipment for use, as well as hearing complaints against carriers, and hearing applications for modification or discontinuance of service. The Board acts under both the Motor Carrier Act and the Federal Motor Vehicle Transport Act (1987). A public passenger vehicle is defined as a motor vehicle carrying passengers for gain.

Effective January 1, 2003, the NSUARB also regulates carriers who operate a commercial van as a public passenger vehicle that has a seating capacity of 8 passengers or less, excluding the driver, and that provides a daily, weekly, or other regular service, or a charter or tour service that enters or departs any municipality. The requirements are safety based and not economic in nature.

The Motor Carrier Division, a division of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, administers a comprehensive safety inspection program for all passenger vehicles. All public passenger vehicles, including commercial vans with a capacity of 8 passengers or less, are inspected by the inspection staff of the Motor Carrier Division.

Applications for new Motor Carrier licenses or amendments to licenses are filed with the Board.

Applications for new public passenger services must be advertised in the Royal Gazette. Other licensed carriers have an opportunity to voice objection to the issuing of new licenses or additions to the routes or number of vehicles. When objections are filed the Board holds hearings. If there are no objections filed the Board will usually approve the application without a hearing. If a carrier who operates a regularly scheduled bus service requests a fare increase or asks to cease operating the service, the Board will hold a hearing. Following the hearing, the Board is required to issue a written decision giving reasons for its disposition of the matter. Past decisions of the Board can be accessed through the “Decisions" button located on the left hand side of this screen.

For further information on the requirements for licensing of motor carriers or commercial vans, please see the Requirements for Licensing page.

Traditional bus services, such as Scheduled Passenger, Charter and School Bus Services have all undergone change. The number of visitors to Nova Scotia has increased, and operators in the adventure tourism and eco tourism markets have also sought motor carrier licenses. Further, cruise ship operators have discovered Atlantic Canada as a tourism destination, and the bus transportation companies have successfully responded to the challenge of providing sufficient buses to accommodate cruise ship passengers wishing to take sightseeing excursions. The Board also licensed the first amphibious vehicle under temporary authority to service the tourism industry in 1999.

The Act divides the responsibility for issuing Regulations between the Governor-in-Council and the Board, with the approval of the Governor-in-Council. Details on regulation making authority is found in the Motor Carrier Act (sections 27 and 28). Regulations currently in force can be found at:

In 1996, the Board Public Passenger Motor Carrier Act Regulations were amended to establish operational guidelines and minimum insurance requirements for volunteers who provide school transportation using privately owned vehicles.

The Board Regulatory Rules outline the requirements relating to practice and procedure for public passenger applications to the NSUARB. The Motor Carrier Act and the Board Regulatory Rules can be accessed through the Statutes, Rules & Regulations page.

Back to top