Pouw Vervoer also has to say ‘no’ to schools more often.Photo: ANP/Hollandse Hoogte/Harold Versteeg

Coach companies must more often say ‘no’ to schools that want to rent a bus for a school trip. Several coach companies say they have to reject applications every day because they have not been submitted on time. The companies have noticed that demand has been high since the end of the corona measures, while the sector is struggling with a shortage of personnel and a smaller fleet.

“Due to corona, the number of buses in a fleet and therefore the number of bus drivers has also decreased,” says a spokesperson for the sector association Royal Dutch Bus Transport (KNV). “Especially when you consider that before the corona pandemic there was just enough capacity for all school trips, it is logical that you will get into trouble if you have not booked a coach long in advance.” He advises schools to travel earlier or later in the year.

First come, first served “In the past you could easily arrange something three months in advance. Now it is: first come, first served,” says Martijn van der Kroef, director of Pouw Vervoer from Vianen. With such 120 coaches, the company claims to be one of the largest in the Netherlands. According to Van der Kroef, Pouw has to disappoint an average of about five schools a day. “We see that a number of schools arrange trips very late. Before corona, a school went on a school trip once a year, now it’s twice because they couldn’t during the corona.”

Van Kooten Reizen from Kootwijkerbroek says it is well prepared for all possible problems. “In times of corona, we did not have to fire people, so we have enough drivers,” says director Simon van Kooten. According to him, the company also renewed its fleet on time. As a result, the company does not suffer from delayed deliveries due to the worldwide lack of materials. Yet the company has to say no to schools every day. “We try to work with schools to see if they can go on a school trip on another day. It is now more common for such a trip to be moved to the autumn.”

Laziness Verschoor Reizen from Hardinxveld-Giessendam has a “luxury problem” due to the high demand. “It is the laxity of schools,” says director Marjandal Verschoor. “At the last minute they realize that they have to rent a bus while a school trip is scheduled for the whole year.” That is also one reason why a school trip is expensive, she says. “Schools complain that a school trip is too expensive, but if you respond too late, it will automatically become too expensive.”

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