Transport company Willemsende Koning uses a coach to transport students. Photo for illustration.Photo: ANP/Hollandse Hoogte/Tobias Kleuver

A number of pupils from Nunspeet primary school Verschoorschool (special education), have been brought to school since the beginning of this year by a tour bus. According to Willemsende Koning, who is responsible for the implementation of student transport in Nunspeet, it is currently difficult to recruit enough drivers.

“We currently have no luxury problem when it comes to recruiting new drivers,” Gerhard Breedveld, operational director of Willemsende Koning, admits to TaxiPro. “It’s just hard to find new drivers. This is actually a solution to reduce the number of drivers.”

Although this solution was born out of necessity, according to the Arnhem transport company, the use of the coach was anything but an ill-considered decision. “Since 1 January 2023 we have taken over the transport contract. We mapped out and estimated the risks in advance. It is of course not the case that we decided at the beginning of December to use a coach for student transport and that the coach will be ready immediately in January. No, that was a whole procedure beforehand.”

According to Willemsende Koning, the reactions of both the pupils and the parents are mainly positive. “Together with the school in question and the municipality, we invited the parents to two meetings. We explained this to them during these meetings. Of course they had to step over a certain threshold, but now they also see the benefits of this.”

Independence According to Breedveld, these advantages are mainly related to the students’ independence. “Parents see that their children are becoming more independent. The children have to walk to a bus stop before they are picked up by our coach. They are picked up at a pick-up point. Those children become more independent and the parents see that too. They like that.”

The coach offers space for 32 students of the Verschoorschool. In total about 32 students use it. Because these children have to deal with issues such as ADHD and/or autism, two supervisors are present in the coach, in addition to the driver. “It is going very well so far”, says Breedveld.

Collaboration According to the operational director of Willemsende Koning, this is partly due to the good cooperation between the school in question and the municipality of Nunspeet. “A school like this, you want more of it,” he says. “Schools often find changes scary or exciting. This school, on the other hand, was really like, let’s just try. This school has done a fantastic job. It is very nice for a transport company to work with schools and municipalities such as this one.”

When asked how long Willemsende Koning will continue to use this (temporary) solution, Breedveld replies: “At the beginning of next month, an evaluation will take place. This question will also be asked there. So that question is still open. But if something works well, why tear it down?”

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