The corona crisis has had a major impact on contract transport. Where the rates previously rose cautiously and the emphasis shifted somewhat more to quality, the number of contract transport providers has increased due to corona and the rates are again under considerable pressure. According to Wim Brouwer, director of the national franchise organization DVG, this situation is no longer tenable. He argues that taxi companies no longer drive at loss-making rates.

Brouwer has been in since the foundation of DVG. at the helm of the organization and has since witnessed many major changes in contract transport. This includes the arrival of European tenders , in which the emphasis has shifted to price and less to quality. Taxi entrepreneurs started to register at low rates and as a result their solvency has become increasingly eroded, he states.

In order to guarantee the quality of target group transport, the trade unions and KNV have jointly agreed Mobility Procurement Institute (AIM) established. “For COVID-17 we found that there was a slow turnaround. The rates returned to a somewhat higher level and there was a little more attention to quality. As a result, the market ended up in somewhat calmer waters, of course more in one region than in the other.”

When corona broke out, everything came to a “grinding halt.” Tenders were postponed and efforts were made as much as possible to extend existing contracts in order to provide continuity and prevent unrest. In the course of last year, the tenders slowly started again.

Twice as many tenderers for tenders DVG then noticed that there were many more providers on the market than before the corona crisis. “A simple tender for student transport that previously had four or five carriers tendered for now sometimes leads to double the number of tenderers.” Brouwer also notices that there are entrepreneurs who previously turned away from contract transport due to the high price pressure and are now returning to this.

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These entrepreneurs focused more on executive transport, Schiphol transport, the business and private market. “And this transport came to a complete standstill last year because of corona. As a result, we had quite a few entrepreneurs on our doorstep who asked if they could start driving contract transport. For example, despite the moderate rates, they would at least have a basis and be able to continue if something happens as is now the case with COVID-19. This is partly due to the compensation money paid from the government.”

AIM enabled too late Moreover, Brouwer states that since the tenders have started again, the rates have come under more pressure. Municipalities have been financially affected to a great extent by the pandemic and have to make cutbacks. In addition, Brouwer believes that an important cause of the price pressure is that AIM is involved too late in tender processes. “A contracting authority should immediately call in AIM and include this advice in the specifications. The moment AIM is consulted if there is already a specification and it has been sent, it is very difficult to make adjustments.”

A less balanced specification is often the result . As an example, Brouwer mentions the tenders for seated patient transport that were made last summer. “The rates for which you have registered are so low that you cannot offer quality. That will probably have an effect soon when the contracts go into effect.”

All signals on red Brouwer speaks of a worrying situation and states that DVG is emphatically opposed to the course of events. “The moment you let carriers drive for far too low rates, this is ultimately at the expense of themselves.” The considerable shortage of personnel, rising wages, high fuel prices and increased congestion are also not helping. “All signals go red due to the combination of all this.”

He therefore argues that taxi operators should be more critical and not drive at these loss-making rates. “As soon as the rate is too low, the obligations can no longer be met. For example, it will be very difficult to give drivers what they are entitled to.”

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