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District 58 Explains Busing Contract

Statement on school district's website provides bid information

released a new statement on its website Thursday detailing how it arrived at the decision to award Westway Coach a contract to handle busing duties for districts 58 and 99 in Downers Grove. The statement is below, verbatim, and can also be read here. For recent statements from District 58, click here. For , here. For Westway Coach, here.

 

The statement reads:

 

Today continued to  see improvements with District 58 transportation services; however, there is still work to be done. District 58 officials and Westway Coach will be focusing on the following issues, which we believe will be resolved:

  • Keeping drivers consistent from day to day
  • Immediate communication with drivers
  • Bus route consistency: Pick-up/drop-off times have been inconsistent, pick-ups/drop-offs have sometimes been on the wrong side of road, and the routes simply haven’t been driven in the same manner each day.

It has come to our attention that these issues have called into question our reasons for making the switch to Westway Coach to provide our transportation, and we want to provide details about that process.

For more than two decades, District 58 contracted with First Student (formerly Laidlaw) to provide student transportation. In fact, prior to this contract, the last time this service was bid was 2002--almost 10 years ago.

However, in 2010, the District received a timely request from a vendor (not Westway Coach) to let our contract by bid, which we were bound by school code to honor (see verbatim school code reference below).

Upon receipt of the vendor request, Districts 58, 99 and 68 prepared a bid that requested pricing for each individual district, as well as combined services for the three districts. The bids were individual bids let out by each individual district. In other words, there were three bids, not one joint bid. 

The public bid opening was conducted in January, and bids were received from Westway Coach, First Student, and Illinois Central Bus Company. After reviewing the pricing, it was apparent that Westway Coach was the lowest bidder.  Once the low bidder was determined, the districts did their due diligence by vetting Westway Coach. Cook-Illinois, the parent company of Westway Coach, operates more than 2,000 school buses daily and serves more than 200 school districts. The references were all very positive, and the financial reports of the corporation demonstrated a healthy, capable company with more than 50 years of experience. Based on this information, the recommendation was presented to the Board of Education to award the transportation contract to Westway Coach. The Board voted to award this contract in February 2011.

The bid results for District 58 are summarized below. These are only District 58’s costs. The contract is not combined.  There are three individual contracts for the three individual school districts.

 

2011-12 SCHOOL YEAR

Westway Coach $1,219,953.50

First Student $1,897,958.20

Illinois Central $2,906,049.07

 

2012-13 SCHOOL YEAR

Westway Coach $1,250,452.34

First Student $1,945,407.16

Illinois Central $2,993,230.54

 

2013-14 SCHOOL YEAR

Westway Coach $1,281,713.65

First Student $1,994,042.33

Illinois Central $3,083,027.46

 

TOTAL 3-YEAR CONTRACT

Westway Coach $3,752,119.49

First Student $5,837,407.69

Illinois Central $8,982,307.07

 

It is important to note that although Westway Coach was the low bidder and the contract represented a significant savings for our district, the decision was not based on price alone.  When entering into a contract that involves the safe transportation of approximately 2,000 students, cost is not the foremost concern. The ability of the vendor to carry out the contract is our primary consideration in making the decision, and our vetting effort turned up nothing that would lead us to believe Westway Coach could not service District 58.

Again, District 58 regrets the inconveniences our parents and students have faced this past week. We share these frustrations, and we are committed to working with Westway Coach to resolve the remaining issues as soon as possible.    

 

**REFERENCE: Illinois School Code, (105 ILCS 5/29-6.1) (from Ch. 122, par. 29-6.1):

Contracts for transportation. Subject to Section 6-106.11 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, school boards may enter into contracts for up to 3 years for transportation of pupils to and from school. Such contracts may be extended for up to 2 additional years by mutual agreement of the parties, and thereafter may be extended on a year-to-year basis by mutual agreement of the parties, however no such contract may be extended on a year-to-year basis if a school board receives a timely request from another interested contractor that a contract be let by bid.

(Source: P.A. 84-768.)

Maria September 02, 2011 at 05:05 PM
Tracy - this is not correct. The school district supplies the names and addresses and school destination for the children who are eligible for bus transporation. The bus company determines the routes. The contract was awarded six months ago. They've had entire summer to hire, train and practice routes. The bsu company also has access to last years bus routes - its public information. There is no excuse for not adequately staffing up to perform this contract. Maybe if they paid as much as the other bus companies, they would not have this problem.
Bill September 02, 2011 at 05:13 PM
The school district should post the contract, the bid specifications, Westway's bid package all online - it would answer alot of questions regarding what the school required, the responsiblities of Westway, termination provisions, etc.
John Conrow September 04, 2011 at 03:13 PM
The local First Student drivers are not union. They voted no to Teamsters representation 18 months ago. Westway had planned on a lot of First Student drivers joining them. That did not happen. They are now offering $1,000. to First Student drivers to start with Westway. Westway is importing most of their drivers from their Villa Park and Crestwood terminals every day. the Westway buses that were refused permission to base in Lisle are based now at the Citgo refinery in Lemont. That is why you see so many Westway buses parked in local parking lots during the day.
jim belousek September 10, 2011 at 01:42 AM
no terminal, NO contract. WHO missed that?
Maria September 10, 2011 at 04:45 PM
No drivers, No contract... the Districts ALL (D99, D58, D68) knew that Westway had not provided the list of drivers prior to the start of school. Doesn't take a HS diploma to figure out that Westway would not provide the copies of the bus driver's licenses to the Districts (required by State Law) prior to the start of school because they did not have enough drivers. The Districts should have known there would be a big problem with transportation. Why didn't the Districts insist on Westway filing bus driver licenses prior to the start of school? (i.e - take legal action)

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