Stagecoach has taken the lion’s share of new contracts for Orkney Islands Council local and school services
Orkney Islands Council has announced the award of contracts for public bus and school transport services in the county. The award of the tenders will secure the operation of school and public services across Orkney from 16 August 2021 for a period of eight years, with the option to extend the contract up to a maximum of a further two years.
As in previous years, the public services have been awarded to Stagecoach, and school transport to a combination of several smaller operators along with J&V Coaches and Stagecoach. School services in Eday, Stronsay and East Holm will be re-tendered as no bids were received.
Public services in Westray and Sanday will continue to be operated by existing contractors M & J Harcus and Sanday Enterprises, and the Island of Hoy Development Trust was awarded the contract to operate a one-day-per-week service on the island.
The Council said that tenders were evaluated on a 70% quality and 30% price basis, with a view to seeking a high quality service for the county, as a result of which Stagecoach committed to operate mainland services using 34 new Euro VI vehicles. It is expected the new vehicles will be phased in from the contract start date as vehicle manufacture lead times permit.
Chair of the Council’s Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Graham Sinclair, said: “I’d like to thank fellow Councillors and officers from our Transport team who’ve helped bring this detailed contract to conclusion.
“The increased weighting given to quality for this contract was in recognition of the importance for the Orkney community of reliable and fully accessible public bus services. It will mean a brand new fleet for all public bus services run by Stagecoach – a vast improvement and one which maximises our ability to provide reliable and comfortable bus services.
“It of course means a significant budget increase to previous years, the major part of that being contract conditions around the accessibility and age of fleet – improvements which we are pleased to announce and which we are sure will be warmly welcomed by the Orkney public.
“I’m grateful to fellow Councillors for their support in approving the additional costs associated with the increased focus on quality – the benefits will be enjoyed by our travelling public for years to come.
“Looking ahead, the use of electric and hydrogen powered buses remains open as a possibility and is encouraged within the contract. In line with our ongoing climate change ambitions, the procurement process for public bus services included options for tenderers to bid on the basis of using an electric fleet.
“While no tenders were submitted on this basis, the contract awarded includes a ‘low carbon innovation clause’ which enables the Council to grasp external funding opportunities as they arise, and work with operators to introduce cleaner greener vehicles to the fleet. That is a challenge our Transport team will continue to pursue, as technology matures and market confidence improves over the life of this contract, and beyond.
“Meantime the move to brand new Euro VI standard low emissions vehicles for all public bus services achieved in this contract is extremely good news both in terms of quality of service and environmentally.” The cost of the contracts for the first full year of operation is £5,379,899, compared with an existing budget available of £3,050,760, representing a significant increase in spending by Orkney Islands Council.