TfL is to step away from the day-to-day running of the Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (Fors) and bring in a private party on a commercial basis, in a move that suggests operators will soon face a fee to be part of the initiative.

Fors has been put out to tender, with TfL looking to appoint a private company to take control of the management and development of the scheme. The successful bidder will potentially operate Fors for up to seven years via a concession contract, with TfL providing assistance to help develop and commercially exploit the scheme in London and nationally.

TfL said it made the decision to hand over the scheme to a private operation due to the increasing take-up of Fors from operators – more than 168,000 vehicles from 1,800 firms are now accredited – and rising demand from operators outside of TfL’s London remit.

A TfL spokesman said: “As the delivery arrangements for the Fors scheme come to an end this year, TfL is seeking an outside partner to help expand it and ensure its long-term development and continued success.” He added that TfL will remain involved with Fors, but did not give details as to the extent.

In regards to charging for the scheme, the spokesman said it would be up to the new private operator to decide. “TfL is not deciding the commercial model for the future of

Fors, that will be a matter for the bidders,” he said.

The closing date for expressions of interest is 2 May, with completed pre-qualifying questionnaires returned by 6 May. TfL envisages that up to 10 bidders will be taken through to the next stage, with a concessionaire appointed by the end of the year.

It is not known at this stage whether the Fors auditing process, conducted for TfL by the FTA, will continue to be subcontracted or handled directly by the new scheme operator.