In a new section, people from the taxi and coach sector give an insight into their work. Susan Kwekkeboom (24) is already 53 years taxi driver and has been working at Brookhuis for six years. Although she is still satisfied with her profession, she also sees plenty of opportunities to make the work more attractive.

“I studied at the art academy in Enschede and after a year I didn’t really know what I wanted anymore. Then, as I drove past the station, I saw a cheerful driver and I thought: ‘Maybe I can do that too.’ A little later I applied for a job at Taxicentrale Enschede and the next day I was called to come and work”, says Kwekkeboom.

This worked out so well that she still works as a taxi driver to this day , in the broadest sense of the word. From Valys and Regiotaxi to defense transport and cash rides. “No day is the same. One time you have someone with post-traumatic stress disorder and the next you have a group of men who had a bachelor party. You have to constantly switch between different people from different backgrounds.”

The arrival of European tenders The biggest change Kwekkeboom in 24 years in the taxi industry, is the arrival of European tenders. Where tenders were previously done more at a local level, the new form of tendering always creates an exciting situation, she says. “In some cases, as a driver, you are forced to go to another carrier. I worked for 14 at Connexxion for a year and then I had to make the switch to Brookhuis. In the end I am extremely satisfied with my new employer – that is not the point – but there is always a certain uncertainty hanging over your head in this profession.”

According to her, many taxi drivers are affected by this dropped out and switched to another industry. Her hope is that in the future clients will again try to keep transport with local carriers. “You also draw people away from the environment. Every time there is a new concession, new drivers come in. Customers also have to get used to this.”

High workload Drivers have also thrown in the towel due to the corona crisis. As a result, the driver shortage in the industry has reached a peak. Kwekkeboom notices this in her work. “I have a permanent contract of 24 hours and have indicated that they can ask me to work more . I now do that on a structural basis.” Despite the fact that this is doable for her – partly due to the appreciation she receives from her employer – she hopes that more drivers will flow in so that the workload will be lower.

About what must be done to attract more people to the sector, she is convinced. “In any case the salary should be increased, especially so that more young people choose this profession. Luckily I have someone who is the main breadwinner with me, so I do it more because I like it. For young people, on the other hand, who have to pay off a mortgage or are alone, it is often impossible to be a taxi driver.”

Understanding driver shortage It is also very important, according to Kwekkeboom, to have a nice employer who pays attention to your wishes and receives appreciation. “You are there for people day and night. There are plenty of passengers who appreciate this, but I think the service has become something ‘normal’ for many. This while it is actually very special how transport is arranged here in the Netherlands. This should be brought to the attention.”

In her view, people should also be better informed about the major driver shortage in the industry and should understand the consequences of this. “I sometimes arrive late and explain that we are under enormous time pressure due to understaffing. Then people wonder how this is possible, because they have the idea that there are many job seekers. This shows how little they know about this.”

Herman Brood in the taxi Despite that, according to Kwekkeboom, If there are still opportunities to make the work more attractive, she would not stop working as a driver any time soon. She gets pleasure from the fun rides, sometimes with very special passengers. For example, she transported Herman Brood when she was only a taxi driver for a few months. “He had to do some shopping for a workshop he gave at the ROC. He sat next to me and asked me many questions. He was very interested. And I remember when I opened the door and he got out of the car, people were amazed. These kinds of things are very nice to experience during your work.”

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