Bus and taxi firms are to share a £10 million windfall in the next five years to take Angus youngsters to and from the classroom.
With school transport contracts up for renewal this summer, councillors have rubber-stamped the process which will see tenders sought for more than 80 routes.
“School conveyance contracts are generally tendered on a three-yearly basis with an option to extend on an annual basis for up to a maximum five years,” roads service leader Walter Scott told children and learning committee councillors.
“Contracts in the Arbroath, Carnoustie, Monifieth and Sidlaw areas are due for renewal for August 2019, as are a number of contracts for children and young people with additional support needs.”
Officials have described the market as “reasonably competitive” and say there are just over 40 potential bus and taxi suppliers for the contracts.
Mr Scott added: “A competitive tender approach to the procurement is, therefore, considered to be likely to deliver best value to the council.
“While two of the companies are national companies, all operators have depots in Angus, Aberdeenshire, Dundee, Fife or Perth and Kinross. It is not considered that any of the incumbent suppliers’ turnovers are so dependent on these contracts that their viability is at risk from the loss of that business.”
The tendering exercise will be divided into lots, each contract representing an individual lot.
The official continued: “These contracts cover a wide geographic area, different time requirements and varying vehicle requirements. There are currently 83 school transport conveyance contracts which require to be tendered.”
The council’s education budget pays for school transport.
National procurement programmes were studies but officials say those, and current collaborations with neighbouring authorities, do not meet requirements for securing the school contracts.
“Consultation has previously taken place with our Tayside Procurement Consortium (TPC) partners formed of Dundee City Council and Perth and Kinross Council transport teams.
“From that consultation it is evident that those contracts under review meet the requirements of Angus children and young people and not those of the other councils.
“Where services enter other local authority areas there is currently no potential for collaborative procurement under the banner of Tayside Procurement Consortium.”
Mr Scott said: “The provision of replacement contracted school conveyance services is an essential requirement to ensure the statutory requirements for the provision of home to school transport are met.
“No alternative delivery to procurement of the required supply is appropriate here because the services are not profitable and will not be provided by any bus/taxi company on a commercial basis.
“It was deemed essential that a procurement process was entered into without delay, to ensure that school transport provision, beginning in August 2019, was organised and confirmed to pupils at the earliest opportunity to ensure continuity and accuracy.”