Tendering process for school buses is unfair, say independent operators

Content of the article

Two other independent school bus operators closed last month due to a bidding process that puts small businesses at a disadvantage, operator Sherry Barker said.

Content of the article

More than 100 independent operators have disappeared over the past decade, according to the Tri-Board School Bus Operators Association.

Barker, of Parkhurst Transportation, which operates school buses in the Belleville area, said the request for proposals (RFP) process some school boards use to contract out bus services to students needs to be scrapped or changed. to allow the little guys to compete.

One option would be to require a smaller grouping of routes, she said.

A local operator with six routes saw them absorbed into a set of 75 routes, she said.

“So for it to stay in business or continue to operate, it would have to bid on a set of 75 routes instead of the six it currently operates,” Barker said Wednesday. “He should buy 69 buses and he should find 69 drivers.”

Content of the article

Small and medium operators would also like the bidding process to reflect the value they have brought to communities in many cases for decades.

They are calling on the government of Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce to demand that school boards change their request for proposals process to adopt the recommendations of two government-commissioned reports on the issue.

Caitlin Clark, spokeswoman for Lecce, said the government is committed to providing safe and reliable transport for students.

We apologize, but this video failed to load.

“That’s why we’re investing more than $1 billion in student transportation this year to ensure routes are protected and buses are safe,” Clark said in a statement. “Our government recently announced the renewal of the School Bus Driver Retention Pilot Project which will help retain frontline school bus drivers, ensure reliable service for families and keep drivers safe. students.

Under the retention program, eligible school bus drivers can get up to $2,000 in bonuses from the Department of Education for continued employment throughout the school year.

Barker said the program is a great initiative that operators would like to see become permanent.

[email protected]

Comments are closed.