Headlines: September 4th, 1998

Changes to tendering rules by the Government will help local authorities get buses onto rural routes more quickly.

Transport Minister Dr John Reid has announced he is raising the price of subsidy contracts which can be awarded to bus operators without a tender process.

Councils award contracts to bus operators to work about 15 per cent of services which are not commercially viable. Councils and operators benefit from avoiding a tender process for smaller contracts, where they involve more time and effort than is justified, and it is useful for local authorities to be able to make small improvements to an existing service by negotiation with the operator, who can probably easily offer best value.

The maximum size of an individual contract which can be let without tender is now twelve thousand pounds. The combined value of contracts to any one operator has also been raised to seventy thousand pounds. In both cases it’s an increase of about twenty percent.

The changes will be implemented by a change in the law due to come into force on October 5.

The change follows consultation with the Local Government Association, the Confederation of Passenger Transport, the Rural Development Commission, and others.