What contracts do Suffolk County Council Passenger Transport offer?

Suffolk County Council (SCCCloseSuffolk County Council) Passenger Transport works as an integrated transport unit and, in addition to its responsibilities under the Transport Acts, it is commissioned by two other directorates i.e. Adult and Community Services (ACS) and Children and Young People (CYP).

Passenger Transport offers contracts for -

  • Registered Local Bus Services
  • Home to School transport
  • Specialised student transport (also known as SEN/Special needs)
  • Specialised adult transport
  • Demand led rural transport

Vehicles sizes range from double deck buses to small saloon cars and will be determined by the needs identified.

The sections below contain important information about how we procure these services and how operators can bid to provide the services on our behalf.

Step one is to register as a supplier on Suffolk Sourcing at www.suffolksourcing.uk

Only when completed can you move on to step two and apply to participate in the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System), the application process for this can be found on the same website.

Joining the Dynamic Purchasing System

To join the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System you need to log in to Suffolk Sourcing and by clicking on “All Opportunities” on the left hand bar you can search for “Dynamic Purchasing System” or alternatively “CD1204” (the reference for the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System).

The DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System is split into two categories or “lots” based on vehicle size (vehicles 16 seats and over / vehicles with fewer than 16 seats) and you can choose to join the lot most suited to your fleet. In some circumstances you may wish to register for both lots if your organisation is qualified to operate both sizes of vehicle. The application process will ask questions relating to licences held, insurance cover (for which copies will need to be uploaded) and several other topics.

A successful application and acceptance into the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System assures Suffolk County Council that all organisations that they enter into contract with are qualified to deliver the class of work that tenders are offered for and that the organisation has expressed an interest in.

Suppliers who have successful applied to join the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System and accepted as approved suppliers will be required to upload insurance documents annually and will be sent reminders.

Only those organisations who have successfully joined the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System will be included on the list of approved suppliers.

Only these suppliers will be informed of tender opportunities and able to submit bids for those opportunities.

With effect from Monday 4thJune 2018 all opportunities will be advertised through the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System and no other forms of tender will be used other than in exceptional circumstances.

Other interested parties may also download the latest list of approved suppliers who have been accepted onto the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System. The list will be regularly reviewed and updated.

List of suppliers admitted to Dynamic Purchasing System (valid 16 December 2019) (PDF 147KB)

Important notes for other parties using this list -

  • The list of approved suppliers only indicates that the supplier named on the list has passed the criteria set out by Suffolk County Council for the services that it provides under the terms and conditions of contract.
  • No inference should be drawn that inclusion on this list offers any warranty or recommendation on the part of Suffolk County Council as to the ability of the operator to deliver services of this or any other type.
  • This list only includes those who have registered an interest in delivering contracts for the authority and is not intended to represent a comprehensive list of suppliers available in Suffolk for this type of work.
  • Any party engaging a supplier on this list to deliver a service after consulting this list is advised to fully inform themselves as to the terms and conditions under which any service is delivered.

How are tenders issued?

All tenders are advertised on our secure online procurement system, Suffolk Sourcing.

Only those registered on Suffolk Sourcing and who have successfully completed the application to participate in the Dynamic Purchasing System will receive notification of a tender opportunity. Please see the section ‘How do I become a transport provider?’ for further information on how to register your organisation.

What will a tender document comprise of ?

Each tender advertised on Suffolk Sourcing (also referred to as a ‘Mini-Competition’) will consist of the following

  1. Mini-Competition document that will include
    • the date that the contract will start
    • the anticipated termination date
    • other details such as the number of seats required and any other special requirements. (These can range from a Passenger Assistant to a tail lift for a passenger using a wheelchair).
    • A timetable will also be included within the mini-competition document. This may take the form of a detailed timetable for local bus services, or a non-specific address timetable for some forms of school and adult transport. Exact addresses will be provided upon award of contract to ensure the protection of personal data.
  2. A separate price specification questionnaire will also be visible, where you will be asked to state the daily cost at which your organisation is willing to operate the service. Before submitting your tender bid, please ensure you read section 3 of the mini-competition document and be sure to acquaint yourself with the terms and conditions under which the contract will be operating.

The tender submitted will constitute an offer and, if the Council accepts that offer by notifying the bidder via Suffolk Sourcing, then we will issue a contract for your signature incorporating all schedules and specifications attached thereto.

Important note about the Terms and Conditions of Contract - With the introduction of the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System we have undertaken a comprehensive review of our terms and conditions of contract to reflect the new "lot" based procurement. We strongly advise all operators to review these terms and conditions to ensure that they are able to meet the standards set out.

A full copy of the current version can be downloaded by clicking on this link - Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) Terms and Conditions of Contract (PDF 904KB)

What if I do not understand something about the tender document?

Any questions or requests for further information relating to a tender must be raised through the Suffolk Sourcing system.

  • Select the tender that you wish to raise a question/information request about and
  • Select the correspondence tab.
  • Choose ‘Create Correspondence’, type in your question/information request, and submit.

When anyone asks for clarification, we provide the answer to everyone who expresses an interest in the tender. This is to ensure that everyone who bids has the same information and that the process is fair and transparent.

There is no limit to the number of questions/information requests that can be submitted. However, there will be a clarification deadline date. This date will be up to one week before the deadline for receipt of tenders and we are not obliged to respond to any questions/information requests once the clarification deadline has passed.

What is the difference between a compliant and non-compliant bid?

A compliant bid is where the submitted bid meets all the criteria set out in the mini-competition document and the price submitted is based on that specification.

A non-compliant bid fails to meet the criteria set out in the mini-competition document. Altering a timetable, or combining it with one from another tender or an existing contract will also render the bid non-compliant.

A non-compliant bid will be set aside and will not be considered.

When are tenders divided into lots?

Most tenders will be issued as a single “lot” as in most cases the tender comprises an entire daily timetable or a single journey per day requirement. Such requirements are not divided further into smaller lots as it would be operationally difficult to deliver (e.g. different bus operators on the same route/different organisation providing the return journey).

 Sometimes however a group of tenders may be issued which are advertised on the same tender document as “multiple lots”. This is usually where there are a large number of routes tendered at the same time to either one school or in the same geographical area. All these routes will be issued on the same mini-competition document to ensure that organisations seeking to bid can see all opportunities in one place, rather than needing to download a number of documents. Your organisation can bid for one or more of the multiple lots. You do not have to bid for all the routes contained in a multiple lot, only those you are interested in.

Can I submit an alternative to the tender specification?

Presently we cannot accept a change that will alter the required operation as specified in the mini-competition document. Any bids submitted that do not provide the requirements we have specified, or for which the timetable does not operate to the locations listed, in the correct order or times (were specified) as detailed in the mini-competition document, will not be considered, and will be set aside as a non-compliant bid.

Consideration will be given to a bid that may for example include additional locations outside of the specified timetable, as long as they do not affect the specified timetable or the ability to provide the required number of seats requested.

 Tenders will be awarded on a lowest annual cost basis. Therefore a bid offering something additional, as described in the previous paragraph, will not out weigh another bid which has a lower annual cost.

 Can I submit combined bids?

We presently cannot accept a bid that combines two or more routes. A price to operate each route as per the mini-competition document must be submitted. This is the case for both “single” lot and “multiple” lots tenders. Bids received for routes that your organisation has combined will not be considered and will be set aside as non-compliant.

 We will however accept an offer to operate two or more routes within a multiple lot (as per their specification) at a reduced price. In these instances, in addition to completing the price specification questionnaire for each route individually, an additional “Combined bids” price questionnaire will be available to allow you to provide details of the discount that you are offering, together with the total number of bids that your organisation can accept.

What else should I know?

When Suffolk County Council issues a tender, it is an invitation to submit a bid (correctly called an “Invitation to Treat” although more usually known as an “Invitation to Tender” or “ITT”).

When the bidding organisation submits the bid, it is an offer to enter into contract and once accepted by the council will become binding.

It is important that the bidder takes this into account and ensures that the price submitted can be delivered. The bidder in submitting the bid will be taken to have considered all costs, all the obligations in the terms and conditions of contract and any other reasonable factor that could have been foreseen when arriving at their bid.

Bids submitted via Suffolk Sourcing can be modified up until the deadline date for submissions. Once the deadline date has been reached, the bid cannot be changed to take into account any other factors.

Can you guide me on how much I should bid?

No, you must work out for yourself how much it will cost your organisation to deliver the contract, including all costs and any profit margin that you may wish to add. We do however regularly update a list of all the current contracts that are operated for us, so by looking at similar types of contract you may be able to see what the market is currently charging. Remember though that their costs may be different from yours. Do not bid so low that it is not financially viable for you to continue with the contract.

How are contracts awarded?

The council will consider all bids, but is not bound to accept any bid, or award the tender.

All the submissions are considered and are presently awarded on the basis of the lowest annual cost. Where there are two or more bids with an equal lowest price, consideration will be given as to whether it would be advantageous to maintain the previous supplier for continuity purposes. Where this is not the case, organisations will be invited to submit a best and final price. Where there are two or more organisations whose re-submitted price are equally the lowest, a method to randomly select the winner will be used (e.g. toss of a coin or drawing lots).

We will let bidders know as soon as possible as to whether their bid has been successful or not.

How will I be paid for the work?

Full details of payments terms are included within the Terms and Conditions of Contract effective at the time.

A full copy of the current version can be downloaded by clicking on this link - Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) Terms and Conditions of Contract (PDF 904KB)

We can only process an invoice for payment if it is correct, so it is important to submit correctly formatted invoices.

Important information about contracts awarded prior to the implementation of the Dynamic Purchasing System

The document available at the link below outlines the terms and conditions that apply to all contracts let by Suffolk County Council that were not tendered via the Dynamic Purchasing System. These relate to contracts for the provision of local bus services, home-to-school/college transport, special needs transport and transport for adults and communities.

The latest version of these terms and conditions take effect from 25th May, 2018 following revisions due to changes in Data Protection legislation.

We have also recently updated the section on "Safeguarding" which contains several changes to ensure that all matters in this area are dealt with consistently across all of our contracts, whichever system they were awarded under.

General Terms and Conditions of contract for the provision of passenger transport services v2.2 (amended 31/05/2018 with safeguarding update) (768KB)

Contracts awarded via the Dynamic Purchasing System

The document at the link below outlines the terms and conditions that apply to all contracts let by Suffolk County Council that were tendered via the Dynamic Purchasing System. These relate to contracts for the provision of local bus services, home-to-school/college transport, special needs transport and transport for adults and communities.

Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) Terms and Conditions of Contract (PDF 904KB)

Below are a series of guides  to help suppliers use the Dynamic Purchasing System

(also available on the Suffolk Sourcing site)

A guide explaining how to register on Suffolk Sourcing and how to become and approved supplier on the Dynamic Purchasing System (DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System)

  • Suffolk Sourcing Supplier Registration Guide V2.0 (PDF 645kb)

A guide explaining the Mini Competition / Tender process showing how to submit your bid.

  • Suffolk Sourcing DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System Tenders with Lots Supplier Guide V2.0 (PDF 718kb)

A guide explaining how bidders and SCCCloseSuffolk County Council communicate within the DPSCloseDynamic Purchasing System to clarify any issues within a Mini Competition / Tender.

  • Suffolk Sourcing Correspondence Communications Supplier Guide V1.0 (PDF 504kb)