School buses. The concerns of the region for the start of the school year in September

School buses. The concerns of the region for the start of the school year in September

Franck Dhersin, vice-president of Hauts-de-France in charge of mobility, does not hide his concern about a possible shortage of school bus drivers at the start of the school year. – Photo: screenshot.

For the start of the school year in September 2022, “we are short of around 400 drivers and around 20 mechanics“, announces Franck Dhersin, vice-president of Hauts-de-France in charge of mobility. “All regions have the same problem“, he adds immediately. Nevertheless, the end of summer promises to be a real headache for the region which must take around 212,000 children to 2,300 establishments served.

To overcome this lack of drivers, several initiatives have been taken. Starting with training. In 2021, the Hauts-de-France region invested more than 3.2 million euros to train more drivers. In 2022, this budget was increased to 3.5 million euros. In vain.
In 2021, 499 people benefited from this training. But not all of them went to the end. And some, after their training, decide to leave. “The RATP steals from us a certain number of drivers that we have trained because, obviously, they offer more… friendly conditionscommented Franck Dhersin. For the year 2022, 238 people are being trained. Which won’t be enough either.

When will parents get answers?

Other actions are carried out alongside training. Reducing the time required to obtain a driving licence; a campaign to promote the profession of bus driver; the optimization of the circuits in connection with the rectorate… But nothing is enough for the moment.
And when we ask Franck Dhersin: when will parents have visibility for their child to go to school? He is forced to admit:We are unable to answer with certainty“. Not before August 16, for sure. Because it is the date on which the region is supposed to have the timetables of all the establishments. The vice president can’t even certify that everyone will have a bus.

Interurban lines affected

School transport is not the only ones that will be impacted by this shortage of drivers. Long-distance lines will also be reduced. The vice-president for mobility speaks of a possible “reliefof certain lines.
There is no real solution“, he finally admits. Before adding:We try not to remove the services today“.

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