Rutland County Council is re-running a tender process for a popular bus route after the first process became mired in confusion.
The Rutland Flyer 1 service links Melton Mowbray and Corby via Oakham and carried 127,200 passengers in 2017/18.
The council launched a new tender for the route in March after current operator Centrebus announced its intention to relinquish its five-year contract this month (LTT-25 May). The contract was supposed to run to next September. Rutland said Centrebus’s decision was the result of neighbouring Northamptonshire County Council axeing all bus subsidy this summer, forcing the operator to review its operations.
The retendering attracted only one bid, from Stagecoach Midlands, who quoted £270,840 a year for the contract, more than five times greater than the £50,392 a year that Centrebus is paid.
On 22 May councillors approved the higher expenditure but at the same time asked officers to explore whether there were any more cost-effective ways to deliver the service, before the contract with Stagecoach was signed.
Rutland says Centrebus informed the council on 21 May that it “may wish to withdraw their notice” of contract withdrawal.
At the time, Centrebus said it had not been invited to retender for the route. Rutland disputes this. “An open tender process resulted in a single bid from Stagecoach,” it said. “During the tender process Centrebus decided that they would like to continue to operate the service.”
Rutland and Centrebus have subsequently reached agreement that the operator will continue running the route under the existing contract until a new contract has been procured.
The new tender process runs until 6 July.
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