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How to Choose Between RFP Responses: The Secrets to Your Search for Shuttle Bus Services

April 1, 2021

You can read through as few or as many shuttle bus proposals as you can get your hands on, but if you don’t know what to look for, you’ll never find it. Every organization that ever put out any request for proposal (RFP) has had to ask the same tired old questions. How can we decide on the best provider for the job? What capabilities are most essential? What should our organization value? 

Your answers make all the difference. So, carefully consider your choices before you make your decision. Challenge your first instincts, and reconsider your priorities. Recognize that there is more to services like shuttle bus logistics than meets the eye. Seek out expertise outside of your expertise to find the best transportation for you. There will always be options, but not all will be viable, and the difference may not be so easy to spot. More often than not, it takes experts to find experts. 

Furthermore, the nature of the shuttle bus business exponentially compounds the challenges of any search for services. At its core, the task seems simple—move people from one location to another. However, there are a myriad of complexities and necessities which organizations may not intuitively know to take into account—but can not transport people without.

DPV Transportation Worldwide has been moving people forward for over a decade with ground transportation solutions for companies and communities. At DPV, we’ve determined that these are the most essential considerations for the safe and timely shuttle bussing of employees, students, residents, and people of all categories:


Cost and Capacity Compatibility:

It’s intuitive to look, because it’s imperative to have.

When evaluating shuttle bus providers, the most obvious factors to explore are also the most essential: capacities and costs.

If the rate of the shuttle bus service does not align with your budget, it does not matter how capable the provider might be. Consider the standard costs of the services you need as you evaluate your proposal, and be careful to set your expectations reasonably. If you limit your search to deals that do not exist, you will never find your provider.

Once you determine that a provider’s price fits your budget, make sure the cost matches the capability, and make sure they truly have the ability to move your people forward. The first step to evaluating capacity is understanding experience.

With regard to a company’s experience, be sure to consider:

  1. Length of Experience How many years has the provider in question offered shuttle bus services for?
  2. Scale of Experience – Has the provider in question offered shuttle bus services to a comparably sized organization with fleet, driver, and route needs on a comparable scale?
  3. Relevance of Experience Has the provider offered similar shuttle bus solutions to a comparable audience before?

It’s important for decision makers to prioritize questions when assessing answers. While an institution that possesses the length, scale, and relevance is always ideal, other indicators can prove providers as potentially viable partners even if their answers to the above questions are not textbook responses. It is vital to evaluate the potential and capacity of prospects comprehensively—with specific goals in mind— and without placing too much or too little weight on any single element.

Beyond the previously mentioned experience-related factors, be sure to consider:

  1. Size of Fleet How large is the current  fleet of the provider in question?
  2. Range of Fleet – Which vehicles does the provider in question have in their fleet? Do the vehicles match the needs?
  3. Quality of Fleet – Are the vehicles in the fleet the latest models? Do they include any special features or entertainment systems? Are they well-maintained
  4. Number of Employees – How many employees and drivers in particular does the provider in question staff?
  5. Level of Expertise – Does the provider in question possess employees and drivers with the relevant training and knowledge to deliver the needed shuttle bus services? Does the provider have an in-house Safety and Compliance Officer (or Safety Manager)?


Customer Service Essentials:

Shuttles are only as effective as their service.

A shuttle bus provider’s customer service skill level defines the entire experience for all. While sometimes underestimated by decision makers, the service component is essential on multiple fronts.

Firstly, it is vital that any shuttle bus provider have a customer service center and account manager dedicated to your program to answer your every question, comment, and concern—as they arise, 24/7. Since obstacles and issues can come about at any time, they must be dealt with in real time to ensure all remains on time.

Secondly, it is imperative that any shuttle bus providers have drivers with the customer service training and personality strengths to deliver on experiences, since shuttle drivers have the capacity to make or break any passenger’s ride. 

Evaluate any RFP response for indicators of flexibility, personability, and professionalism as these are the core components of quality service and non-negotiables in a ground transportation provider. Inquire about the level of customization in their service agreements. Determine whether or not they are willing to shift their services to your needs over time. The sector is rooted in human interaction and success is dependent on a service provider’s ability to accommodate personal challenges and changes as they arise. Be sure any proposal you seriously consider is one that speaks to such capabilities. 


Safety Cues To Consider:

If people can’t move forward safely, they can’t move forward.

Safety is arguably the most essential component of transportation. This top priority comes into play in a surprising number of ways in shuttle bus services, and a provider must meet all safety standards in every capacity to qualify as an eligible candidate. If a provider has an unsatisfactory Department of Transportation (DOT) Safety ratings, or does not have a Safety and Compliance Officer, they should not even be considered. Nothing comes before passenger safety. 

It’s important to recognize that the questions and considerations extend beyond what the average executive may consider upon hearing the term safety. The relevant safety areas range from technological to procedural considerations and encompass traffic safety, passenger security, as well as disease prevention measures.

Other questions and elements that ought to be assessed include:

  1. Are the vehicles safe for operation and secure for riders?
    1. Maintenance Schedules & Routines
    2. Incident Detection Monitors (Cameras & Sensors)
    3. Tracking Capabilities
    4. Code Adherence
  1. Are the drivers able to safely operate the vehicles?
    1. Licences
    2. Qualifications
    3. Background Checks & Drug Tests
    4. Training
  1. Are health protocols with COVID-19 considerations in place?
    1. Distancing Measures
    2. Sanitation Measures
    3. COVID-19 Contact Tracing Capabilities
    4. General Policies & Flexibility Levels


Visibility and Measurability:

Insights drive efficiencies forward. 

Advancements drive visibility. Visibility drives accountability. Accountability drives success. Assess the access that your provider has and can give you to real time information and analytics. You can only address what you know and improve upon what you understand. Be sure that you and your provider align on what success looks like, and have the means to measure it. 

Determine how the provider in question defines good performance and measures it. Potential methods include surveys and client meetings, and the agreement upon the method is as essential as the method itself.

From KPI’s to ridership reports, technology plays a pivotal role in this area. Advancements such as mobile applications create new opportunities for quick feedback and performance tracking, as well as vehicle tracking. Inquire about the reporting frequency and what’s included in reports. Advanced insights, such as peak drop off and pick up times could transform your transportation system with savings. Automatic ridership counting technology can help to make such efficiencies a reality.


Diversity, Sustainability, & Responsibility:

Care for others means care for riders. 

The most valuable partners are the ones that share the strongest values. Their corporate cultures are poised for success. They view transportation as something more. They care for the environment as well as the communities they serve, and they are certain to give to you as they give back to those around them.

Related areas to inquire about include:

  1. Corporate Cultural Practices
  2. Philanthropic Efforts
  3. Partners and Affiliates
  4. Sustainability Practices
  5. Workforce Diversity and Inclusion

Environmental friendliness and workforce diversity also come with added benefits. Partnering with diverse organizations empowers certain institutions to meet their quotas. Businesses with green initiatives often make great savings, since sustainable vehicles can help reduce long term costs as well as emissions and your carbon footprint. Additionally, in some cases, such measures can be directly attributed to tax credits. Assess which benefits are relevant for you and check which providers align.


Conclusion

Without innovation, there is no transportation.

When it comes to shuttle bus services, there is a lot to consider, but the equipment makes all the difference. The latest innovations ensure passenger safety, cut costs, benefit the environment, measure performance, and improve ride experiences at the same time. With a myriad of vital uses, technological advancements intersect with nearly every area listed in this guide in some capacity.

The range of applications make the utilization of newly formed innovative resources the key to effective, efficient, and economical transportation, and yet the possibilities are often overlooked by providers and the institutions that contract them alike. As the advanced tools currently available are constantly shifting, it can be challenging to keep up with the most immediate resources to look for and obtain in your shuttle services, but this guide should give you a few recent and relevant technological capabilities to look out for, such as vehicle health monitoring, location tracking, rider counting, and mobile application technologies.

As the above guidelines indicate, you have the provider for you, if the ground transportation proposal you’re assessing has the advanced technologies and human abilities to check off each of the criteria listed below:

  • Fair Costs and Rates
  • Quality Fleet 
  • Expertise & Experience
  • Traffic Safety
  • Vehicle Security
  • Health Safety
  • KPI Alignment
  • Reporting Capabilities
  • Diversity and Inclusivity
  • Sustainable Vehicle Options
  • Corporate Responsibility Practices

If the provider in question checks off some but not all, which is more likely the case, carefully evaluate your priorities for your particular shuttle bus services. Be sure to reach out to experts in your network or DPV directly with any questions or concerns you may have.

As a minority-owned business enterprise with a deep care for the community, we’re always happy to help other businesses and government agencies at DPV. Over the years, we accumulated a wealth of transportation along with our transportation technologies, sustainable vehicles, and industry experts. Everyone at DPV from customer service representatives to chauffeurs are privately trained in everything from safety to service. If you need a new shuttle bus provider, shuttle management, or CDL driver support, and you’re looking for answers, we’re here to support you with a consultation and help you find the most efficient solution for you.

Connect with DPV here for the shuttle bus guidance you need to move your people forward.

Empower your people to move forward.

Empower your people to move forward.

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