Only 1 company bids on bus services for Albion school district

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Higher minimum wage talk has service provider cautious

Photo by Tom Rivers – Buses at Ridge Road Express are parked on West State Street on Tuesday after about a foot of snow fell in Albion.

ALBION – Albion Central School sent out nine bid packages to transportation companies for busing services in 2016-17.

Only one company responded to the request for proposals. The Board of Education approved the contract with Student Transportation of America (Ridge Road Express), the district’s current provider.

Ridge Road Express will be paid 9 percent more for the three contracts, which include $958,680 for the main contract (2 bus runs in mornings and 2 in afternoons); $583,120 for out-of-district transportation; and $103,000 for the student charter contract.

The district had the same contract with Ridge Road Express for 15 years, a deal that allowed for inflationary increases.

The district expected more than one bidder for the new contract. However, some transportation providers are reluctant to commit to new clients because of the uncertainty with the minimum wage, said Shawn Liddle, Albion’s assistant superintendent for business.

“They are leery about extending themselves too far out,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to raise the minimum wage from $9 to $15. The minimum wage was $7.25 about three years ago.

Liddle was asked why only one company would bid on a bus contract for about $1.5 million at a recent Albion Board of Education meeting.

“The governor is saber-rattling with the minimum wage,” Liddle responded.

Other districts are seeing similar responses to busing proposals, where companies are reluctant to negotiate contracts based on the unknowns with their salary costs, he said.