The driver shortage leads to problems in healthcare transport. Although there is often understanding for the situation among municipalities, schools and parents, patience sometimes runs out. Moreover, understanding does not contribute to solving the problem, says senior consultant for contract management at Forseti Ronald Derks. According to him, something needs to be done on three points.

Even before corona broke out, the taxi industry was dealing with a shortage of drivers. These have now become substantial shortages. Due to the corona crisis, taxi transport came to a standstill, as a result of which many drivers have started looking for other work. “For example, at courier companies where they can work more hours and come into contact with many people less. That choice is understandable, but in the meantime the situation in target group transport is almost impossible”, says Derks.

In contract management he also experiences the consequences of the shortages. For example, carriers sometimes do not want to renew contracts because they cannot deliver services . “But hardly anyone can do that. We therefore have to look at the situation very differently. Where we could previously point out obligations, this is no longer self-evident. We are all facing the same problem.”

To make way for us On this At the moment everyone is busy keeping transport running in a responsible manner. “Many students, for example, have an interest in structure, fixed drivers and times, but we cannot offer them that at the moment”, says Derks. Not only the shortage is to blame for this, he also believes that dropout plays a major role. “There is a high absenteeism rate among drivers . On the one hand, due to the current measures and corona. They become ill, have a quarantine obligation or have to stay at home pending a test result. On the other hand, the workload is high.”

In WMO transport, too, people are rowing with what they have. Demand is increasing, so drivers feel the pressure to get everywhere on time, according to Derks. “Because you transport vulnerable people anyway. And the more delay there is, the more difficult it is for the driver. You don’t want to keep someone waiting for an hour and a half.”

According to him, volunteers could help, especially in social assistance transport when reducing this pressure. “Fortunately, municipalities and voluntary organizations are increasingly finding ways to organize target group transport more efficiently. So that they can ask the question in advance: is this a ride for a professional carrier or for a volunteer organization?”

More appreciation for the profession Derks states that action must be taken on three levels. First of all in the field of appreciation for the profession of taxi driver. “Work contracts are often limited in hours, because the transport mainly takes place before and during school hours. This while the need for full-time contracts among drivers is growing. Previously there were many drivers who ‘did this work on the side’, but that group has become much smaller due to corona.”

In addition, according to Derks, the salary is not extremely high. “While drivers do have a great responsibility for the students and travelers they transport. A responsibility that the drivers really feel that way. This is not something that can be solved quickly, it requires a national long-term approach.”

Collaboration in recruitment As a second action point, Derks states that there should be more cooperation in the recruitment of drivers. For example, between municipalities and carriers. “Or in guiding people back to work. Fortunately, people from other sectors are increasingly being looked at. For example, construction workers who are approaching the end of their career, for whom working in construction may become too physically demanding.”

Short-term actions In the short term, we should look for ways to carry out the same transport with fewer drivers, says Derks. “For example, you can look at the possibilities of merging journeys, or using vehicles and drivers differently or more broadly.” According to the advisor, profit can also be made by steering on the rules of the game. “For example, by extending the detour times or transporting more in block times. Because we must try to reduce customization and standardize more, that’s for sure. Otherwise we will not be able to arrange it.”

Another measure that will provide quick relief in his view is the active application distribution in Wmo transport. Wmo travelers are hereby asked to travel outside rush hours. “That is something that immediately relieves pressure. For example, At Regiorijder Forseti is now busy mapping out all low-occupancy journeys for student transport, so that in a month’s time we will have insight into where efficiency can be achieved. Where we can, for example, combine rides.”

You get further together Derks emphasizes that every adjustment is accompanied by – sometimes adverse – consequences. “For example, transport during block times is not convenient for schools. Some children have to wait for the taxi while others are still having lessons. But I know from experience that when we enter into discussions with schools and other parties involved, it often turns out that more is possible. If you look for solutions together, you will get further.”

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