Guidance, documents & FAQs


Suffolk Sourcing guides 

Safe vehicles guidance (PDF 318KB)

Wheelchair guidance (PDF 417KB)

Driving on school premises guidance (PDF 318KB)

School staff directing vehicles guidance (PDF 318KB)

ID badge photo guidance (PDF 276KB)

View our safeguarding leaflet (900 KB)


Approved bus and taxi suppliers (PDF 62KB)

Live contract list (PDF 196KB)

Terms and conditions of contract – September 2023 (PDF 768KB)

Terms and conditions of contract – September 2021 (PDF 843KB)

Terms and conditions of contract – May 2018 onwards (PDF 904KB)

DBS information for schools (35KB)

Direct Government funding

Covid-19 Bus Service Support Grant (CBSSG)

Devolved BSOG Grant – Annual Outputs Report 2020/21

Devolved BSOG Grant – Annual Outputs Report 2021/22 (PDF 157KB) 

Devolved BSOG Grant – Annual Outputs Report 2022/23 (PDF 425KB) 


How will I be paid?

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 from the documents section of this page.

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

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 much should I bid?

We cannot help or be involved with the bidding process. 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 to tender

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 supplier?’ 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 DPS 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 contract terms and conditions can be downloaded from the documents section on this page.

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.

How do I become a transport supplier?

Step 1. Register

Step 2. Sign into the DPS (Dynamic Purchasing System) to ‘Express Interest’ and complete the form

Step 3. If approved, you will become an approved supplier (PDF 116KB) and will be able to tender for work 

Step 4. Search our current tenders

Joining the Dynamic Purchasing System

To join the DPS 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 DPS).

The DPS 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 DPS 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 DPS 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 DPS 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 DPS and no other forms of tender will be used other than in exceptional circumstances.

Other interested parties may also download approved bus and taxi suppliers from the documents section of this page. The list will be regularly reviewed and updated.

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.

What is BSOG (Bus Service Operators Grant)

This grant was previously administered exclusively by Department for Transport (DfT) and is intended to reimburse operators of local bus services for an element of the duty paid for fuel used to operate the services.

Since January 2014 however responsibility for payments on local bus services supported by local authorities has been devolved and a sum equivalent to the final payments made by DfT in the year previous to January 2014 is now made annually to Suffolk County Council.

Conditions placed upon the grant by DfT state that it may only be used to support local bus services (including Community Transport) and for the provision of infrastructure that support such services.

Since January 2014 Suffolk County Council has used this funding to support local bus services in the following ways –

  1. Paying to operators the grant that can no longer be claimed from DfT on existing supported services. Operators were asked for previous submissions and these were cross referenced with data supplied by DfT. Invoices for BSOG are submitted separately from invoice costs. This is paid on the basis that the operator should be “no better off and no worse off”
  2. Paying BSOG on supported services that have been secured since this date in the form of new contracts, bidders are required to submit BSOG sums separately within their tender and to claim separately.
  3. A limited number of services are now funded in their entirety by the grant, these are mostly in rural locations or at times of the day when SCC could not normally fund services.
  4. The provision of infrastructure within Suffolk including Real Time Passenger Information (RTPI also sometimes referred to as ‘live departure times’) screens, promotional materials for Connecting Communities services and a number of small projects.

What is TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings)?

Companies or individuals who tender for contracts with Suffolk County Council are advised that in certain circumstances the provisions of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (SI 2006/246) known as TUPE, may apply.

This entirely replaces the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 1981 (SI 1981/1794) which have often been referred to as the TUPE regulations.

Where these regulations apply there will be a responsibility placed at a school by a Local Authority Officer; this includes a placement at the nearest suitable school with places available if none of you preferences can be met or to a special school or specialist unit on the grounds of special educational needs. upon the successful bidder to comply fully with this legislation.

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