School Bus Tender

Information and updates relating to the upcoming open tender for daily bus and technology bus services.

While the responsibility of getting students to and from school sits with caregivers, the Ministry offers assistance to students where distance is a barrier to education.

Ministry of Education is the second largest provider of passenger services in New Zealand. This includes:

  • managing approximately 7,000 vehicle journeys each school day
  • carrying 40 million passenger journeys each year
  • assisting over 100,000 students safely to and from school every day
  • managing contracts for 78 transport providers for bus services, specialised transport, and ferry services.

Open tender information

The current daily bus and technology bus contracts expire on 31 December 2020. Under the Government Rules of Sourcing, the Ministry must go to open tender.

In a series of workshops held in late 2018 with current contracted suppliers and supply chain representatives, Ministry officials shared the tender time frames and discussed the high level vehicle specifications as they were framed at that time.

Updated Timeline

Responding to suppliers and supply chain representatives, the Ministry has extended the time frame for the transition period from the old contracts to the new contracts at the start of 2021.

To achieve this, the tender release is planned for August 2019.

Non price attributes will be considered first and price responses will not be required until later in the process.

Tender bid evaluations are expected to be concluded and contracts awarded in April 2020.

An updated timeline is shown below. Please note that these dates may be subject to change.

A timeline for the School Bus Tender

Download the bus tender timeline May 2019 [PDF, 216 KB]

Scope of tender

The tender will include approximately 1,500 daily bus routes and 700 technology routes. This number could increase if some schools choose not to extend their current Direct Resourcing agreements.

Routing Groupings

Routes will not be offered individually. The Ministry will group routes together using a set of grouping principles. The principles are as follows:

  • Principle 1: Routes shall be grouped together to encourage economies of scale and simplify engagement between the school, transport operator and Ministry.
  • Principle 2: The alignment of these groups shall be consistent with the natural formation of a group of schools within a defined geographical region and aligned with Regional Council boundaries.
  • Principle 3: The size of the group of routes shall include all bus services required of a group of schools, including technology services, and support a sustainable business model with enough size and scope for competitive tensions to exist.
  • Principle 4: The Ministry retains the ability to determine which group any given bus route will belong to.

More detail about how these principles will be applied will be provided in the August tender release.

Operator Structural Arrangements

In order to enable all operators regardless of size to participate, the Ministry will welcome tender bids from various types of organisational structures, including sub-contracting arrangements, and/or joint-ventures. This is intended to ensure that high quality but smaller sized operators can participate. More information will be included in the tender release.

Service Specifications

List of substantive specifications [PDF, 265 KB]

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