Bids invited in £44M passenger transport shake-up

The main public bodies in the Borders are combining to provide an improved and seamless system of passenger transport from early next year.

And this week, under the aegis of the Scottish Borders Community Planning Partnership (CPP), they revealed details of a “single framework agreement” worth around £44million to bus operators and taxi/private hire firms over the next four years.

The new regime will replace the disparate passenger and community services currently offered by Scottish Borders Council, NHS Borders, Borders College and the four main housing associations.

Companies and individuals interested in bidding for a slice of the action have until December 19 to do so and the contracts will be awarded in January.

According to the procurement notice published on Monday, the CPP accepts the need for a cross-sector approach “to coordinate services more effectively and efficiently”.

Thus bidders will be expected to plug gaps in current provision for schoolchildren, students, shoppers, the disabled, hospital attendees and visitors.

Also targeted will be people living in remote areas with limited access to passenger transport with feeder and dial-a-ride services due to be introduced.

The shortcomings of existing arrangements have been highlighted in successive household surveys and are regularly aired at meetings of SBC’s five area forums.

The maximum number of operators involved in the framework agreement has been set at 100, but the CPP stresses it is not bound to accept the lowest tenders.