Claiming a victory for safety, the New York State School Bus Contractors Association announced that the Request for Proposal (RFP) law on school transportation contracts has been finalized and will no longer require approval by the State Legislature every five years.
“The RFP process is a very important tool for the school districts and taxpayers. It helps keep children safe by effectively excluding fly-by-night operators from pupil transportation services and it also provides school districts with the ability to hire a (bus) contractor that fits their community’s service needs,” said Robert Pape, the newly instated president of the NYSBCA. “Making the RFP law permanent is a big win for student safety as it ensures school districts will continue to have a proven process that allows them to procure the safest and most reliable school transportation possible.”
Sen. John Flanagan noted that providing a quality education to children across the state begins with ensuring schools are able to provide bus service that is safe as well as cost effective.
“This change will enable school districts to consistently make decisions based on factors that are important to the families they serve and that will help protect the children of our state,” said Flanagan, who worked with the contractors association, including board member Phil Vallone (pictured above, with Flanagan at left) on fixing the state’s RFP law.
Prior to the 1996 RFP law, school districts could fall victim to school bus operators with poor safety records and inferior operations because they were forced to select bus contractors based solely on price. The passage of this law empowered school district officials to consider other key factors when hiring a bus company, such as its safety record, service quality, reliability, competence and fleet condition.
The original law included a sunset provision to allow the legislature to determine if school systems' use of RFPs would improve the delivery of private pupil transportation services.
The NYSBCA pushed for passage of the 1996 law with the help of John Corr, president of the Trans Group, and John Corrado, president of Suffolk Transportation Service.