It is a trend that has been visible for a number of years: the increase in demand for individual student transport. But with the current driver shortages, it is almost impossible to meet that demand. What now? Ronald Derks, senior consultant contract management at Forseti, shares his view on the matter in a blog.

A child who cannot go to an internship or day care because there is no transport is. It shouldn’t be possible, but unfortunately it does happen. Simply because there is no one to drive the taxi. There are two reasons for this. On the one hand, there are more complex cases. In such cases, there are often several problems in a family. As a result, many authorities and counselors are involved, and there is often a strong tendency to use student transport to relieve the parents. A logical choice, but that is not always what student transport is intended for.

Before an application for student transport is made, all alternative ways of traveling must be considered. The question is whether this is done thoroughly in all cases. On the other hand, individual transport is increasing due to customization in education. Pupils receive education that meets their specific needs. A positive point for the children of course, but if this is accompanied by different teaching times or a school at a great distance from home, this also has consequences for transport.

The easiest solution The individual transport is granted on the basis of an indication that is given on the basis of medical advice. If taxi transport is the only solution, we will arrange it. But sometimes, for example, individual transport is requested because a child is bothered too much by all the stimuli in the taxi bus or because there is disagreement between students during the transport.

My feeling is that in some cases for individual transport is chosen because it is the easiest solution. However, with the current pressure on taxi transport, it is not the easiest nor the best solution. Splitting routes and assigning individual transport due to disagreements on the bus causes problems for other students because there are already too few drivers. In addition, it is much more restless for a student if he has to wait an hour for a taxi because the schedule is not met and the transport does not go as the student expects?

Same goal, different perspectives This situation requires that we look even more closely at the possibilities of avoiding individual transport. The willingness is really there on all sides. But often they do not know where to find each other. Municipalities, parents and schools all have the same goal: to enable students to travel to school in a responsible, safe manner. But each party has a different perspective.

Where parents put their child first, it is also important for schools that transport does not influence school times. That children do not have to wait too long before the lesson starts or before they are picked up. Cost control plays a role in municipalities, and inefficient transport is a major cost item. At the moment, the need to organize transport as efficiently as possible is extreme. Because the shortage of drivers makes for almost impossible situations in target group transport. Nobody wants the students to be the victims of this.

Looking at possibilities Fortunately, this results in people being creative enter into conversation and look at possibilities. For example, in the contract management we do, we agree with municipalities on how to deal with unrest on the bus. The municipality enters into talks with parents, and after such a meeting it often turns out that more is possible than previously thought.

For example, a while ago we had problems with the transport of a student. After a discussion with the parents and the municipality, the parents were given a microcar with which they could take their child to school themselves. An additional advantage was that mother no longer had to use social assistance transport. It also sometimes happens that a pupil is able to travel independently by public transport after a period of supervision. This is not only a plus for the transport situation, but more importantly: the student is self-reliant, something that will benefit him for the rest of his life.

These examples show how important it is to involve parents and schools in these kinds of processes. Municipalities must be open to alternatives and dare to steer towards them. Regardless of the different perspectives, it is important to understand each other. My experience is real: if you look at the possibilities together, you get so much further.

Author: Ronald Derks

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