While school districts can opt to buy electric buses through their existing dealer, contractor or a state contract, many will put the bus and charger purchase out to bid to fully evaluate the vendors and new business models associated with electric school buses.
Some districts, especially those that are considering multiple business models and/or full fleet electrification, will want to begin with a Request for Information (RFI), a solicitation process that is helpful for information-gathering and understanding the market of available providers and services.
Other districts will go straight to a Request for Proposal (RFP), which is a solicitation process that ends with the district accepting a bid from a vendor. If considering a turnkey solution, some districts may consider an additional RFI/RFP process for project management support. Either way, you will need to work with your procurement and business staff and district leadership to determine the appropriate process and follow all legal requirements.
You should carefully consider what should be included in the final contract. For example, you may include warranties, maintenance, trainings for drivers and maintenance workers, requirements for local hiring or unionized labor, workforce development and more.
Things to do:
- Meet with your procurement and budget office
- Arrange demonstrations with manufacturers/dealers/service providers
- Develop and run an RFI and/or RFP as needed
- Select a vendor
- Get approval from school board or city council
- Issue purchase order/execute contract
Questions to consider:
- Are you planning to own or lease your buses, or are you interested in turnkey fleet services?
- Should your district run an RFI and/or an RFP?
- What values and criteria are you looking for in a vendor? Are there environmental or equity criteria that you should include in your vendor selection process?
- Will you need to hold a site visit or teleconference for prospective bidders?
- Who should be involved in a bid evaluation committee? Is there an opportunity to bring in representation from the school or broader community?
- What is the contract approval process and what do you need to do to get buy-in from district leadership?
- What opportunities exist to include equity in the contract? Could you include requirements for local hiring, unionized labor and/or workforce development and training?
- Can you align your procurement with existing fleet turnover and budget cycles?
- What warranties, maintenance and training need to be included in the contract?
- District transportation director
- District business staff
- District procurement staff
- District superintendent
- School board or other entity that approves contracts and purchases
- Manufacturers/dealers/as-a-service companies
- School bus contractor (if applicable)
- Electric School Bus US Market Study and Buyer's Guide – WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative: This comprehensive guide offers an overview of the electric school bus market and a catalog of available bus models with detailed vehicle specifications.
- All About Electric School Bus Business Models – WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative: This article considers the benefits of various arrangements of roles, responsibilities and financial obligations in the school transportation market.
- Request for Information (RFI) template – WRI's Electric School Bus Initiative: A customizable template that school districts can modify to run an RFI.
- Request for Proposal (RFP) template – WRI's Electric School Bus Initiative: A customizable template that school districts can modify to run an RFP.