Theo Vegter’s term as chairman of Bus transport Netherlands (BVN) has come to an end. Unexpectedly, the four years that he was allowed to fulfill this role were largely dominated by corona. In his farewell blog, he looks back on a special time and expresses his hope for the future of the coach sector.
When I got this role in 30 I had obviously couldn’t imagine that half of my presidency would be affected by a virus. We have been living with it for almost two years now and in fact the coach sector has largely come to a standstill since the start of the corona crisis. That did not mean at all that BVN has done nothing all that time. The Zoom, Webex and Teams conversations with MPs were numerous and together with entrepreneurs I had the opportunity to virtually speak to Her Majesty the Queen about the consequences of corona for our companies.
Unfortunately, the virtual door did not open everywhere. For example, the doors of the ministers remained largely closed and I see that as a missed opportunity. I mean for the ministers, because even without the attention of our own Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, we found our way. Of course, former State Secretary Van Veldhoven should have done more with the capacity of our sector when public transport was short of seats due to the one and a half meters. But apparently unknown also makes unloved.
The relationship with the ministries That is a lesson for the future: we have to put in even more work in the relationship with the ministries. But if almost all the rules and laws of our sector come from Brussels, then it is not surprising that you do not flatten the door of the ministry.
It made all the difference for the corona rules. nothing out. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) is in charge there and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, as has been shown, has little or nothing to say. When the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport became aware that we even have better ventilation than the airplane, that we know almost all our customers and that contact investigation for our sector is usually a breeze, the bus was allowed to fill up again.
Media attention for the coach sector If you are not allowed to give your opinion on the corona measures or the height in Op1 or in other media every week of the support, it does something to the image. It seems as if you have no influence. Fortunately, that is not the case at all. Shortly after the campaign on the Malieveld, entrepreneurs were able to drive full buses again. At the end 2021, the picture we sketched of our sector together with VNO and MKB was partly responsible for the fact that the maximum amounts of the TVL increased considerably.
In the beginning it was still crowded in the media, partly due to the justified attention for healthcare and the loud cry from the catering industry, after a while the media themselves came to our sector to highlight the stories from the coach sector. Three times in the eight o’clock news, several times Hart van Nederland and RTL Nieuws and countless times in written and regional media, a large part of which at the beginning of the corona crisis, is really not surprising for a relatively small sector like ours.
Hope for the successor Of course I would have preferred to write in this farewell column about fantastic touring years in 2020 and 2021 and good prospects for 2022. That we as a sector would be doing well on making the sector more sustainable. About the lobby in Brussels for driving and rest times tailored to the tour sector and about the usual collective labor agreement matters. But the reality is different. I hope that my successor can deal with that sort of thing and start looking at the long term. In any case, I thought it an honor to be chairman of the industry in these turbulent times.
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