SPS reverses its decision on the transport contract and splits the award between rival companies
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) intends to award its transportation service contract to two companies for the 2022-2023 school year, First Student and Zum Services. The two companies will receive at least 40% of the overall commission, according to an internal memo between the current contractor, First Student, and SPS.
Following a request for proposals (RFP) during the current school year, the district originally awarded the rights to First Student, the district’s primary transportation contractor for more than thirty years. That decision was appealed by Zum, citing a series of alleged errors made by the district in its assessment of the bidding process.
Rival to First Student exposes Seattle schools’ failed bidding war
Broadly, Zum alleges two errors made by the district, both of which resulted from the scoring metric used by SPS to evaluate and ultimately award the contract: their true best and final offer was not reflected by SPS; the district did not distinguish between the types of buses stipulated in the contract, which resulted in inaccurate price assessments of bids.
First Student disputes these assertions by Zum, citing a “misunderstanding of procurement guidelines and discretion given to SPS.” SPS could not be reached to comment on either allegation.
“We were disappointed that the district did not award the entire contract to First Student. We believe that there are significant economies of scale in the provision of student transportation services. We stand ready to serve the district in any way and appreciate the continued partnership,” a spokesperson on behalf of First Student wrote to MyNorthwest.
The details and scope of the shared price are yet to be negotiated between SPS, First Student and Zum Services.
“A shorter contract term is planned to see how First Student and ZUM can accomplish the task of providing transport for the first year. This will guide the district’s decision on transportation services for years to come,” the memo read.
Seattle Public Schools declined to comment on the contract award decision.