New York’s request for proposal (RFP) law for school transportation contracts is now permanent, meaning it will no longer have to be approved every five years by the State Legislature.

The New York School Bus Contractors Association (NYSBCA) announced the legislative change on Monday.

“Making the RFP law permanent is a big win for student safety, as it ensures school districts will continue to have a proven process that allows them to procure the safest and most reliable school transportation possible,” NYSBCA President Robert Pape said.

“Providing the students of our state with a quality education starts with ensuring that our schools have the ability to provide them with the safest transportation possible,” said New York state Sen. John Flanagan, who worked on making the RFP law permanent. “This change will enable school districts to consistently make decisions based on factors that are important to the families they serve and that will help protect the children of our state.”

According to NYSBCA, prior to the 1996 RFP law, school districts would fall victim to school bus operators with poor safety records and substandard operations because they had to choose bus companies based solely on price.

Passage of the 1996 RFP law was initiated by NYSBCA and spearheaded by John Corr, president of the Trans Group, and John Corrado, president of Suffolk Transportation Service. With that law in place, school districts could choose a private school bus operator based not only on cost, but also on such factors as safety record, quality of service, fleet condition, reliability and overall capabilities.

“The RFP process is a very important tool for the school districts and taxpayers,” Pape said. “It helps keep children safe by effectively excluding fly-by-night operators from pupil transportation services, and it also provides school districts with the ability to hire a pupil transportation contractor that fits their community’s service needs.”

The original law included a sunset provision to allow the Legislature to determine whether the use of RFPs by school districts would improve the delivery of private pupil transportation services.

After almost 20 years and three renewals by the state Legislature, NYSBCA officials said it was clear that New York’s RFP process is doing its job in ensuring safe, reliable and cost-effective private school transportation services in the state.

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