Low bid wins: H-PT changes bus companies

HOUGHTON – Houghton-Portage Township Schools will be switching transportation companies.

The School Board approved a five-year contract with Lamers at its July meeting. Lamers will replace R&A Transportation.

The district has a transportation budget of about $375,000, said Superintendent Doreen Klingbeil. Lamers’ bid came in at about $240 less in base spending than R&A’s.

“Lamers providing a bid is good,” she said after the meeting. “We spent five years with R&A, and they provided a service to our school, but that’s how the bidding works.”

R&A had told the district about two weeks ago it would be unable to provide service for this year, Klingbeil said. It later revised that, but had yet to provide a formal bid by Monday. R&A had indicated its bid would have increased rates. It also wanted the district to offer free use of the bus garage, which would have amounted to an increase of $20,000, Klingbeil said.

Board member Buck Foltz said there had been indications that R&A might not be able to finish up the year.

“That would be tragic,” he said. “It would be absolutely unbelievable to find ourself in that position. I think it would be somewhat negligent to go with a company that’s not sure they can continue to serve us.”

Lamers will decide if it will hire on the existing Houghton drivers, Klingbeil said.

Klingbeil said Lamers plans to adopt the current routes for now.

“It probably won’t look any different on the consumer end,” she said.

Lamers’ proposal included an annual operations fee of $102,240 in its first year. For daily routes, the price would be the greater of $139 per day or $1.70 per mile for morning and afternoon routes. The figures drop to $115 per day and $1.70 per mile for a morning or afternoon route only.

On extracurricular, athletic or field trips, the cost for the bus is $1.05 per mile or a $25 minimum charge, whichever is greater. The cost for drivers will be $14.25 per hour or $172.50 per day on overnights.

Rates for the subsequent years of the contract will be renegotiated.

The district has used Lamers for some extracurricular trips. Lamers also provides bus services for Calumet. Feedback in both cases has been positive, Klingbeil said.