02 Apr

London Bus Tenders


London bus tenders: an insight

London bus tenders are unique. This is because London’s entire bus network is regulated by Transport for London (TfL), unlike the rest of the country’s.

What does this mean? Well, it simply means that transport providers in London answer to a higher authority. This results in:

  1. More accountability for transport providers.
  2. Fares and routes being specified by TfL.
  3. Tighter restrictions on dos and don’ts for transport providers.
  4. Greater sustainability of the transport service.
  5. Strict performance monitoring to ensure good quality.
  6. A structured tendering process.

But who is TfL?

TfL and London Buses are managed by the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority (GLA). The GLA is comprised of 25 elected London Assembly Members and support staff. The Mayor is responsible for creating policies and targets for London transport.

Sounds a little complicated, right?

Actually, it’s not so bad.

Delivering London bus services only requires you to answer to London Buses. The services you deliver will be shaped by the Mayor and the GLA’s policies. But in reality, the important name here is London Buses.

At Hudson Discover, we have a dedicated portal to help you find bus tenders – Logistics Tenders. Our Opportunity Trackers meticulously scour all portals and collate them in one convenient location. Unsurprisingly, London bus tenders are the most commonly found.

London has a complex, integrated and structured transport network. Each year, approximately one fifth of the network is retendered – creating valuable chances for business development.


London Buses delivers bus services on behalf of the Mayor of London. London Buses:

  • Plans routes;
  • Specifies service levels;
  • Is responsible for bus stations, bus stops and other support services.

The scope of the services provided by London Buses is vast. Approximately 120 routes alone operate on a 24/7 basis.

Times are changing. The climate emergency and health crisis have rocked London’s transport system. As such, London’s low emission bus fleet is an integrated mix of:

  • Hybrid buses. Electric propulsion systems meet Diesel-electric powertrains.
  • Electric buses. Purely powered by electricity, obtained from an external source.
  • Hydrogen buses. Hydrogen fuel cells powering electrically driven wheels.

As the fleet of London buses evolves, so must all related processes. The future of London Buses’ procurement will be increasingly driven by the search for environmentally friendly options.

The key features of London bus tenders are:

  • Routes are tendered individually;
  • 5-year contracts, with a potential 2-year extension;
  • Continuous releasing of Invitation to Tenders every 2-4 weeks;
  • Requests for an example schedule. London Buses wants to see how you as a supplier will service the route(s).

The standard process includes:

  1. Expressing interest on London Buses’ portal;
  2. Receiving a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire;
  3. If approved, you will be added to approved supplier’s list;
  4. Framework agreement and Invitation to Tender issued;
  5. Tendering opportunities released on a route by route basis.
  6. Responding to tenders for desired routes.

London bus tenders will contain a specification of requirements. These will usually include:

  • Service number route;
  • Terminal arrangements;
  • Frequencies;
  • Type and capacity of vehicles;
  • Minimum performance standards.

Rail replacement buses

Another aspect of London bus tenders is rail replacement buses. These buses are procured by London Buses on behalf of London Overground, London Underground, the DLR and Crossrail.

Services provided here could comprise of two options. Planned works could see one or two vehicles operating in the early morning. Alternatively, weekend closures could require up to 50 vehicles.

The process for rail replacement London bus tenders is:

  1. Area identified by rail operator;
  2. Specification created by London Buses;
  3. Pre-qualified suppliers invited to tender.


Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQs):

London bus tenders begin with a standard PQQ. More specific questions asked may include:

  • Demonstration of passenger safety procedures;
  • Demonstration of Health and Safety compliance;
  • Company licences or certifications;
  • Financial status.

Invitations to Tender:

Typically, a response to a London bus tender will include:

  • A pricing document.

Here, you may be asked to include the cost of the service plus a profit margin.

A written quality response.

Topics covered in questions may include:

  • Ensuring quality;
  • Ensuring safety;
  • Ensuring timeliness;
  • Describing your service delivery;
  • Details about your staff and how you will develop them;
  • Details of your vehicles and how you will maintain them;
  • Details about your premises.
  • How you sustain competition.
  • Relevant appendices.

Undoubtedly, London Buses will want to see evidence that you are a safe, capable supplier. Certain policies/procedures may be required as part of the tender response.


Our tips for tendering for London bus services are:

  • Keep up to date with current tenders.

The sooner you find out about a tender, the better. It gives you more time to prepare. Scheduling workloads, allocating responsibilities and agreeing deadlines is best done in advance. There will be forms to complete and documents to prepare and collate. Give yourself a head start on preparing a successful response.

  • Complete all tasks.

As part of the PQQ and ITT stages, make sure all documents requested have been completed and uploaded. These may range from policies to certifications, from financial accounts to a draft schedule. As key supporting elements, due diligence is required from start to finish.

  • Align your resources with the specification.

With London bus tenders, there will undoubtedly be specific requirements about your resources. For staff, this may be qualifications or certain training. If you can evidence this – great. Demonstrate that you fulfil requirements. The same is true for your vehicles. London Buses may specify seat numbers, efficiency, or length. It will be key to show that you have taken these into account.

If you cannot currently commit to requirements stated, explain how you will.

  • Consider alternative arrangements.

Innovation is impressive and sustains the current network. Review all requirements of the specification and identify areas for added value or benefits. Is there a way you can improve the service if you delivered it? How might you create added value for your passengers? Is there a more suitable vehicle to propose?

  • Evidence, evidence, evidence!

Whether it’s the PQQ or the ITT stage, evidence is essential.

For the PQQ stage, you may be asked to provide three contract examples. London Buses wants to see where you have delivered similar work before. If possible, it is important to include:

  • 1 or more contracts of a similar scale and scope;
  • 1 or more contracts for a similar client to London Buses or TfL.

Any combination of the above is key to demonstrating your competency during the PQQ stage.

When responding to quality questions, back up points with evidence. Ask yourself questions like:

  • Where have we done this before?
  • Why was it successful?
  • How could we replicate it?

Why bid for London bus tenders?

Simply put, these are the crème de la crème of UK bus tenders. You will need to have experience under your belt to do so, but the benefits are undeniable:

  • Once you service one bus route, it will become easier to tender for others.
  • A 5-year contract (stable income) would be indispensable for any business.
  • Being part of a transport system driving environmental innovations.

How could Logistics Tenders help me?

A subscription to Logistics Tenders could see your bus tendering efforts streamlined. As part of your regular fee, you are entitled to:

  • Unlimited access to the Logistics Tenders portal. Be the first to view new London bus tenders and increase your chances of success.
  • A dedicated Account Manager. On hand to help you with any and all bus tendering queries.
  • A daily email bulletin. A list of bus tenders published each day, helping you to stay ahead of the curve.
  • A free 20-minute phone consultation. Chat to our Hudson Succeed team about a London bus tender you’ve found. Our experts can provide advice, guidance and insight to support your tendering efforts.


Worried about tracking opportunities for London bus tenders? No need! Logistics Tenders from Hudson Discover will do the work on your behalf. Our Opportunity Trackers scour portals every day, looking for the latest bus contract notices.

You could receive a daily bulletin straight to your inbox containing all the bus tenders published that day.

Sound good? Thought so. Contact Hudson Discover today for your free demo or free trial to take the hassle out of tender tracking.

Remember to subscribe to our Weekly Transport Business leads newsletter to receive all the latest transport contract opportunities from around the UK including:

School Taxi Contracts

Bus Tenders

& general Transport Contracts

Found a bus tender and need additional support? Our expert team at Hudson Succeed would love to help. Get in touch to learn more about our bespoke bid writing services.

We’ve Rebranded… 12th April 2019 Rebrand-Logistics tenders - Taxi Contracts: A det… 12th April 2020