A Full Analysis of Competitiveness in the School Bus Industry

"The student transportation industry in Ontario is in a period of transition. … During this period of change, it appears to have been an implicit assumption that any approach to procuring that does not involve the use of requests for proposals (RFPs) is inadequate, and therefore cannot achieve the value-for-money objective sought by the school boards. This seems to have remained an unexamined assumption, as we are not aware of any analysis offered by the Government* that has assessed the strengths and weaknesses of what may broadly be termed the "non-negotiated fixed-price" approach to procuring student transportation services, which has been widely used in Ontario since the late 1990s. (*By 'Government', we mean mainly but not exclusively the Ministries of Education and Finance, whose mandate has been most directly related to the student transportation mandate in Ontario).

This memorandum argues that while the non-negotiated fixed-fee approach may be improved, it produces many of the benefits normally associated with competitive procurement because it is, in substance, competitive. In fact, if properly understood and implemented, it can produce benefits greater than those flowing from the use of traditional RFPs. A central theme of this memorandum is that RFPs should be viewed as one tool available in the toolkit of school board consortia, and that the indiscriminate use of RFPs in all circumstances when procuring student transportation services fails to optimize the long-term value achievable by school boards."

Click here to download the complete document in PDF format