Parents' concerns as the start of the new school year approaches

Parents’ concerns as the start of the new school year approaches

The lack of drivers has already posed problems at the end of the school year. REMY GABALDA / AFP

The National Federation of Passenger Transport (FNTV) estimates that there is a shortage of 7,500 drivers for the start of the school year.

Since she received an email from the Pays de la Loire region at the end of July, Melody Maillard, mother of three, has been worried. In question, “a complex situation» in the management of school transport in the face of a shortage of drivers. “Some circuits could be adapted“, specifies the region, which ensures that the families will be informed”from August 24“.

For this resident of the small town of Jupilles in Sarthe, said coaches are nevertheless essential: “ My eldest is 12 years old, he goes to college 20 kilometers away and he has to take two buses to get there. For my second, I am already obliged to pay a taxi so that it is dropped off every day in his specialized school“, she testifies. The shortage of drivers has already made journeys more complex in the past: “I saw my boy being stuck in a commune in the middle of the journey, because one of the two buses was late or did not pass“, specifies Melody, “ before, there was a dedicated driver for the bus journey, now he constantly changes“.

“Towards the end of the year, some vehicles weren’t even passing, without warning”

Caroline, mother of two teenagers attending school in Thonon-les-Bains.

“Usually we recruit around 10,000 school bus drivers per year. At present, companies have only found half of them“, reports, for her part, Isabelle Ingrid Marechal, general delegate of the National Federation of Passenger Transport (FNTV). According to her, the Pays de la Loire needs at least “700 drivers“Additional and it would be necessary to recruit them” 7500 nationwide“.

In fact, in other regions such as Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes where there is a shortage of just over 1,000 drivers, new recruits are quickly put to work. A situation that can hold other surprises for families: “One morning, my 13-year-old son had to tell the driver that he was taking the wrong route.recalls Caroline*, whose children go to school in Thonon-les-Bains. “Sometimes, for lack of buses, the one that passed was crowded and the students were standing. Towards the end of the year, some vehicles did not even pass, without warning“, adds this single mother and in the obligation to adapt to remedy these unforeseen events. “ The region and Thonon agglomeration pass the buck in terms of the difficulties encountered. For September we have no information and we are not sure that some lines will be maintained “Adds, annoyed, Nathalie *, mother of a teenager also educated in Thonon.

Companies looking for solutions

To encourage future drivers to come, we fund them the public transport license up to 7000 euros“, begins Gilles Lefebvre, director of the company Transdev, in charge of the management of school transport in the center of France. Faced with the shortage of drivers, the business manager is not short of ideas: “ We work on a case-by-case basis now and we try to find the most suitable solution for the employee. For example, we strongly encourage workers aged around 50-55 to join us in order to complete their terms for retirement and finish their careers with us.“.

However, Gille Lefebvre acknowledges, the main problem comes from part-time contracts. He campaigns to review the functioning of public markets: “ The ideal would be to have extensive public contracts which would give the company the management not just of school transport but also of other lines. This would allow us to offer a greater working time to our drivers“, he reports. For her part, Melody Maillard, like the other mothers interviewed, still took over the subscription for her son: “ I have no choice and, in any case, we have to resume the season ticket as of July so as not to pay more afterwards, but we sign up without knowing if the coach will still pass by us.“, concludes, bitter, the young woman.

*Name has been changed

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