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In the country of Brest, bus companies are going into overdrive for school outings – Brest

The words of thanks from the director of the Sources school pleased their terminus: the messaging service of Cars Bihan, a company based in Lesneven. The kindergartens of the public school of Drennec took the bus, this Monday morning, with a big smile. On the way to the Menez-Meur domain, in Hanvec. All’s well That ends well. Because, if the little ones ended up seeing the wolves, the story crossed an involuntary rabbit.

Highly anticipated, the school outing was originally scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 7. But this morning the day after Whit Monday, the bus didn’t even show up. Communication problems. The picnic, taken happily in the school, finally swallowed the disappointment. As well as the promise of a new date, promised by Cars Bihan.

Clamped at 80%

This example aims less to point out responsibilities than to reveal the short-term difficulties of public transport companies in satisfying the traffic jam of requests. “We are asked to work at 120% when we can only operate at 80%”, summarizes Philippe Bihan, boss of the coach company.

End-of-year outings from schools or works councils flock in these months of May and June, after two years of pandemic withdrawal, while the room for maneuver has narrowed for the assignment of a driver: “Right now, I’m missing five or six (out of a workforce of 60) to provide, at least, the service”.

Sick leaves

A human deficit dug by sick leaves, not compensated by recruitment (read below). A dozen drivers from the Lesnevian company are currently unfit for service: “We started to suffer from the covid tsunami in January. Since then, the number of stoppages has remained at double its usual level. A problem that affects other colleagues in the network, ”points out Philippe Bihan.

Christian Labat, boss of Trans Elorn Tourisme, in Landerneau, confirms: “I work with 18 employees instead of 21 and, at the moment, we make two to three school trips a day”.

Reports, shortcuts, remote calls

How does he solve the equation? ” Very complicated. We sometimes have to propose a postponement to the beginning of July. Or else favor short distances so that the driver can be back at 4:30 p.m., in Landerneau, and continue with the school bus service”.

In the absence of an available driver, we refer to colleagues. More and more distant: “People from Fouesnant called us for transport to Nantes”, illustrates Philippe Bihan. At Trans Elorn Tourisme, a group of adults asked for a quote for a Rennes – Saint-Brieuc: “This means that you can no longer find a carrier near your home,” worries Christian Labat.

in complement

Relaunch a stalled recruitment

Olivier Gougeon, regional delegate of FNTV Bretagne, warns of the urgency of training and recruiting coach drivers, in an attempt to make up for the heavy loss of staff in recent years.

“The lack of drivers is felt everywhere in Brittany but also in the rest of France, in the United States, in Canada… It is a global social phenomenon. Everywhere, these professions have been neglected, ”notes Olivier Gougeon, regional delegate of the National Federation of Passenger Transport. “We have long relied on the model of the retired soldier to renew positions, without preparing for the future. But the covid has been there, keeping older people away and causing the loss of a lot of staff.

The return to comfortable human resources does not appear at the next stop. “Already, let’s stop the bleeding. Then let’s quickly get down to solving the recruitment problem”.

Salary: talks on track at the Region

The priority measure is to accelerate the increase in income. The talks between representatives of the profession and the Region (main sponsor of the Breton public transport market) are moving in this direction. “It should vote for the revaluation of additional allowances for drivers (of the BreizhGo network), especially part-timers, at the beginning of July. For an application from September”, rejoices in advance Olivier Gougeon.

Bulwark against desertification, auxiliary to the energy transition

The engine of the formation, stopped for three years – “which has aggravated the disintegration of the teams” -, will also have to be restarted, without dragging. Which supposes repriming the pump of communication: “We have to restore the image of this profession. Insist on its dimension of local public service, the possibility of working near home, as a complementary activity”.

The challenge of recruitment goes beyond the sole interests of bus companies to intersect with major social issues: “In rural areas, public transport is fighting against desertification”. The bet on the energy transition also requires finding more attractive avenues towards this profession which values ​​collective travel. “It’s a job with a future,” says Olivier Gougeon.

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