Parliamentary questions

Published on 05-10-480 at 10: 30

Minister Dennis Wiersma.Photo: ANP/ Paul Dijkstra

Dennis Wiersma, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, is shocked by all the stories about the current state of student transport in the Netherlands. The minister made this known in a response to written questions submitted by D66 Member of Parliament Paul van Meenen, on behalf of eight different parties, have been submitted.

“It is very sad that situations now arise in which a student is late for school or has to wait a while after class before he or she is picked up”, Wiersma says in his answer. . “Longer travel or waiting times mean that children arrive late at school and are home late, which means that they arrive at school overstimulated and have less time and energy for social contacts after school. The stories I’ve heard about this are worrying. It is therefore important that this situation improves quickly where things are going wrong.”

To find out how big the problems in student transport are at the moment, the minister, together with the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG), has launched a survey among parents into travel time and the quality of student transport. “In this, attention is paid to all crucial aspects, such as the arrival of drivers on time.”

The minister also says that he is in talks with Parents & Education, the Ombudsman for Children and Student Interest Continued. Special Education (LBVSO) about the bottlenecks in student transport. “In addition, I have structural consultations with Royal Dutch Transport (KNV) and other ministries about activities to solve the staff shortage.”

Municipalities responsible Dennis Wiersma emphasizes, however, that the legal responsibility for the implementation of student transport lies with the municipalities. He therefore lists a number of suggestions. “Good emergency solutions are, for example, deploying volunteers, including parents and retirees, as is happening in Zwolle. But hiring external parties, such as providers of coaches (with guidance) or using street taxis, as is done in Enschede, are also possible. That is why I strongly urge municipalities to deploy emergency solutions where necessary,” said the minister.

Procurement method In addition, Wiersma points out the tendering procedure. “One of these structural solutions is that municipalities will jointly tender for target group transport in the new tendering round, so that drivers will receive a larger employment contract than the current, often small contracts, of sixteen hours a week,” he says. “It is important here that municipalities make agreements about making the transport of the various target groups sequential, so that, for example, Wmo transport is used as much as possible after school transport.”

In conclusion Wiersma says he is aware of the various measures that carriers have already taken to tackle the staff shortages. “However, the reality remains that it is difficult to recruit enough drivers in the current labor market,” he says. “Many drivers have a relatively low income, partly due to the fact that in many municipalities target group transport is contracted out by different companies, which often leads to small contracts. This can also have a negative effect on quality. Drivers with good quality and affinity with the students should be employed in student transport. They must be adequately equipped for this by the transport companies. Also with larger contracts and an appropriate wage, as far as I’m concerned.”

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