ASTP Scheme migration FAQs
The Assisted School Travel Program (ASTP) current contract arrangements will be moving to an ASTP Scheme from 1 January 2024.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The ASTP Scheme replaces the former Eligible Service Provider list and is governed by a set of conditions. A Scheme shifts away from the cumbersome and onerous system of tendering and reduces the time needed to apply so that you can spend more time running your business.
Unlike the original tender which was open for a period of time and then supported by a Transport Area availability listing, applicants can apply at any time for inclusion into the ASTP Scheme as it will remain open-ended (indefinitely).
The ASTP Agreement will be effective from 1 January 2024 through 31 December 2024. The Agreement covers a maximum aggregate Term of 10 years (one Initial Term and nine Further Terms) which is intended to provide a level of service continuity.
Much of the current terms and conditions of the current ASTP Agreement remain unchanged although reflected in a more concise and streamlined manner.
In an effort to support smaller size providers, Phase A Run capacity has increased from 1 Run up to a capacity of 5 Runs.
The amendments applied to the ASTP Agreement are focused on improving student welfare, health, and safety considerations, incorporating operational changes that have evolved since the previous ASTP Agreement(s), and aligning with changes to NSW Government policies.
Amendments to the Contract Management Plan have also been applied to reflect the introduction of the ASTP Scheme Conditions and updated ASTP Agreement.
For a detailed listing see the ASTP Agreement amendments matrix.
In March 2023, the ASTP completed a review of the 2024 Schedule of Rates (Fees). This was the first major review of the base rates since 2012, driven by feedback received from providers, particularly over the last 12 months, along with the precursor of the ASTP Scheme.
During the review, a number of provider focus groups were conducted in conjunction with benchmarking costs to ensure the rate structure was fit for purpose.
Following this review, the department supported an upward adjustment in all categories, which was a significant step in recognising the importance of the ASTP Scheme given the current fiscal environment.
In recognising the pressures of the current economic climate, a bi-annual CPI review will occur to support and maintain the Rates value against increases in the cost of living. The first biannual adjustment will occur in July 2024.
As the invitation to join the ASTP Scheme has occurred prior to the release of the 1 October 2022 to 30 September 2023 Australian Bureau of Statistics CPI (Sydney) the ASTP has attempted to demonstrate the 2024 rates comparing the uplift to the current 2023 rates – see 2024 Scheme Rates.
Figure 1: In the ASTP Agreement package illustrates a hypothetical 2024 ASTP Scheme Fees with a CPI increase of 5.68% - commencing January 2024.
Figure 2: In the ASTP Agreement package illustrates a hypothetical 2024 ASTP Scheme Fees with a January 2024 CPI increase of 5.68%, then a further biannual 2.10% CPI adjustment commencing July 2024.
See clause 8 of the 2024 ASTP Agreement for information on how the rates are calculated.
Requests will be issued to current providers for continued service under the ASTP Scheme following a review of their capacity, capabilities, and need by the ASTP. To confirm their continued participation and membership in the ASTP Scheme providers will need to accept the conditions of the “ASTP Scheme transition documents” and register their business on the buy.nsw Supplier Hub.
The ASTP will transition operators current list of approved drivers and vehicles. If there are any changes such as the acquisition or replacement of vehicles or new drivers operators are asked to submit the respective forms separately.
To ensure fairness and opportunity for new entrants into the Scheme, the department will commit to ongoing Expressions of Interest (EOIs) in all regions of NSW throughout the life of the Scheme.
Signing the ASTP Agreement and respective documents has been made simpler, streamlined, secure, flexible, faster, and more eco-friendly through the use of DocuSign eSignatures.
With DocuSign eSignature, signing is free. You will receive a link to open the ASTP Agreement on a device of your choice, such as a mobile phone, tablet, or computer.
Tabs and simple instructions will then guide you through the signing process.
The ASTP will only be able to offer/allocate 2024 Runs to providers who are members of the ASTP Scheme.
As part of an annual rollover of students, the ASTP will start to plan 2024 Run allocations in Term 4, 2023.
Find out more about the annual end of year run allocation.
Transport through the ASTP is provided as an in-kind support for National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants who are eligible to receive an ASTP service.
On 1 July 2018, the NDIS became fully operational in NSW. However, the ASTP continues to provide in-kind assisted travel between home and school for eligible students.
It is important to note that under the ASTP Scheme the ASTP will continue to operate under existing state government arrangements during NDIS implementation while governments across all state and territories examine future transport options.
The ASTP Scheme will not impact the way that the ASTP engages or remunerates ATSOs.
The ASTP Scheme invitation is tailored to each business profile and entity type. Each package comprises the following documents:
- The ASTP Scheme invitation letter: 4 pages
- The ASTP Scheme Conditions: 11 pages
- The ASTP Agreement (the Contract): 42 pages
- Scheme Fees: 8 pages
- Figure 1: 3 pages
- Figure 2: 3 pages
- Contract Management Plan: 29 to 30 pages (dependent on tier type)
- RCTI: 2-3 pages (dependent on entity type)
- Acceptance form: 2 pages
Once the Agreement and acceptance form have been signed and countersigned you will receive an email with the option to download the completed package for your records.
The ASTP has applied a number of industry-accepted safety standards similar to providing passenger services in NSW i.e. taxi and hire vehicle (including rideshare) driver standards.
- Vehicles must be registered and be properly maintained by a mechanic licenced to carry out such repairs. Drivers must not operate a vehicle they know, or ought reasonably to know, is non-compliant with the vehicle standards.
- All vehicles must undergo an annual safety check (pink slip), even if they are less than five years old.
- All vehicles have a Safety Management System that identifies and manages risks to health and safety.
- Drivers must have held an unrestricted Australian drivers licence (not a probationary licence) for at least 12 months in the preceding two years.
- Drivers must not have had a previous driver authority suspended or cancelled (other than on medical grounds) in the past five years. Current approved eligible ASTP drivers will be conditionally grandfathered unless there is a change to employment circumstances, their licence becomes suspended/cancelled, or if their suitability is called into question at the discretion of ASTP.
- Drivers must not have been found guilty of any disqualifying offences as referenced in the Agreement.
- Drivers must meet medical standards for commercial vehicle drivers.
Providers have a duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of drivers, passengers, and others in connection with the provision of their service.
Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017 (NSW) requires that first aid equipment is provided for the workplace (which in this instance includes vehicles) and access to that equipment is available for all workers. There also must be an adequate number of workers who are trained to administer first aid at the workplace or have access to persons who have been trained to administer first aid.
The ASTP and parents expect a high level of duty of care in support of our most vulnerable students. All drivers are required to complete first aid training, once every three years; and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and anaphylaxis program training, annually. Each vehicle must also have a vehicle first aid kit that includes an EpiPen or equivalent.
While Assisted Travel Support Officers (ATSO) are trained in first aid and anaphylaxis, their presence in vehicles is not always assured as not all students require the support of an ATSO, which can also vary on any given day.
The uplift in the Schedule of Rates (Fees) has, in part, included compensation to providers for training by a Nationally Recognised Training Organisation, the provision of a vehicle first aid kit and supply of an EpiPen. EpiPens can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies.
The seating capacity for sedan, people mover, mini bus, and wheelchair 1-3 vehicle categories remains unchanged and is the same as the current ASTP Agreement.
If you wish to use a vehicle that seats more than is required for a run, i.e. 13+ passengers or accommodates more than 4 wheelchairs, then you may use the vehicle at the required payment rate as determined by the ASTP.
The ASTP Mobile App for Drivers enhances the service quality for our customers and ensure the safety and wellbeing of students while on transport.
Find out more about the ASTP Mobile App for Drivers.
For those drivers servicing areas with limited or no mobile coverage, the Mobile App for Drivers will continue to function with the Run Data from the last refresh. The application will synchronise with the ASTP when the connection is re-established.
The ASTP is considering future uplift opportunities to expand the benefits of the Mobile App for Drivers to:
- Contractors – mobile dashboard and support pay claims
- Parents – notify the forthcoming arrival and safe departure of students
- ATSOs – support timesheets
The ASTP Scheme will go live to the general public in September 2023.