An innovative way of buying in school bus services has helped net Derbyshire County Council more than £20,000 worth of savings.
Around 8,500 Derbyshire students are entitled to free home to school transport. They include those living over a certain distance away from their school, students living along hazardous routes and pupils in receipt of certain benefits.
Local bus and coach operators provide the trips which are paid for by the county council.
The annual spend on bus journeys for entitled pupils – for primary-aged schoolchildren those living more than two miles away from their normal area school and for secondary-aged students those living more than three miles away – is £5.8 million.
Ten home to school bus contracts were recently up for renewal. They were reviewed, as usual, to take account of changes in student numbers and journey patterns.
And asking the bus companies to bid for the new contracts electronically, rather than on paper, has helped to save the authority £22,011 – 9.2 per cent less than it previously cost to provide the same services.
The electronic system is run as an eAuction whereby bus operators bid against one another online, driving the most competitive price.
Coun Simon Spencer, deputy leader and cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We continue to review all of the bus services that we support, including home to school transport, to ensure we are getting the best value for money.
“These eAuctions are a good example of doing something a little more creatively to help us get the best deals and because the whole process takes up less time it means we can also make the most effective and efficient use of our staff resources.”