Statement By Zum Services, Inc. on Seattle Public Schools’ Notice of Intent to Re-award Transportation Contract to Current Failing School Bus Vendor

Zum Services has submitted a formal bid protest challenging Seattle Public Schools (SPS) staff’s announcement of their intent to recommend that the SPS Board of Directors award another 5-year student transportation contract to the troubled incumbent vendor, First Student. The protest highlights clear miscalculations in the RFP scoring process and urges SPS staff to update their recommendation to reflect Zum’s scoring advantage. 

SPS staff’s initial recommendation to retain the status quo comes after an evaluation process that has featured seven months of delays since it’s October 2021 release, an abrupt bid cancellation and reopening, multiple miscalculations in scores, and the revelation of over 600 safety violations against First Student, SPS’s current busing vendor for years.

Zum stands fully prepared to continue fighting for a fair process and championing this opportunity to serve Seattle families and transform student transportation in partnership with SPS. Seattle families and their leaders deserve full transparency into the decision being made on this large contract, which will impact the safety and well-being of SPS children.

In the coming days, the District will either choose the status quo, or join cities like San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles that have moved on from First Student and opted to modernize their student transportation system with Zum.  

At Zum, we place the needs of students and families at the center of every decision. We offer tools that allow parents to securely track their children’s trips on our buses in real time. We use route optimization technology to improve efficiency, transparency and save schools money. We love our drivers and prioritize their empowerment, training, and fair pay. Our partner districts have not suffered the extreme driver shortages or service outages that plagued SPS with their current contractor. We are the only student transportation company that is 100% carbon neutral today and have committed to transitioning to all electric buses by 2025.

Zum’s Student Centered Approach

Above all, we keep students safe. That is our north star. Zum has proudly served Seattle families since 2019, serving communities and students overlooked by First Student, including thousands of students with disabilities and many of the most vulnerable students who have seen their bus routes canceled. In that time, we’ve earned an overall parent satisfaction rating of 4.96 out of 5 stars through 80,000 student rides for SPS. 

Zum has proudly served Seattle families since 2019

Seattle parents and community leaders are beginning to speak out about the urgent need to finally move on from First Student, and introduce transparency and fairness within this selection process. We remain optimistic the district will move quickly to correct scoring miscalculations, which omitted the cost of wheelchair accessible buses and masked nearly $7.5 million in additional costs associated with First Student’s bid, granting them 12 unearned points and a faulty 5 point advantage overall.  

“Zum was founded with the backdrop of my personal experience as a working mother and an immigrant woman, often forced to navigate unlevel playing fields” said Zum founder and CEO, Ritu Narayan. “This is exactly the type of inequity we work everyday to eliminate, whereas we believe every student deserves safe and reliable transportation options, and their families deserve to be fully seen, heard and respected as these decisions are made.”

Zum CEO and founder, Ritu Narayan

Given the commitment of District leaders to equity, transparency, accountability and student safety, we expect they will exercise their power to quickly correct their recommendation and select Zum as the trustworthy partner Seattle families deserve. Zum will continue to fight alongside Seattle families for a long overdue transition to the safe, efficient and modern busing solution SPS students deserve. 

Connect and learn more:

For more information on Zum, including media inquiries or questions from parents and community members, please contact: or by phone (206) 333-4121.

Read our press release here

Meet Zum

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