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It is a complex situation with many different factors contributing to the driver shortage problem in the taxi industry.

Healthcare transport companies are increasingly affected by capacity problems at the Central Bureau for Driving Skills (CBR), leading to significant difficulties in filling more than 1200 vacant driver positions. Delays in conducting practical exams by the CBR impede the influx of new drivers and increase pressure on the already tight labor market.

“This shortage of drivers threatens to lead to cancellations of trips, which causes great inconvenience for our customers who depend on healthcare transport,” says Bertho Eckhardt, Chairman of KNV Healthcare Transport and Taxi. “Companies and drivers are also experiencing increasing stress as a result, which threatens business continuity.”

While the CBR is not the cause of the original staff shortfall, it is clear that their current capacity issues are contributing to the delay in resolving the shortfall. It is therefore not unreasonable to say that the CBR plays a role in the ongoing problems in the taxi industry.

KNV Zorgtransport en Taxi, the sector organization for care transporters, is seriously concerned about the current situation and calls for immediate action. “We have been dealing with a high number of vacancies since last summer, and the problems at CBR are exacerbating this situation,” Eckhardt added. “A solution must be found quickly to ensure the future of healthcare transport.”

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It is understandable that the CBR opts for the defense. It is also important to see the bigger picture and recognize that there are multiple aspects to the problem. Firstly, there was indeed an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the taxi industry. Many drivers have moved on to other professions during the pandemic, and many have not returned to the taxi industry after the crisis. This exodus has presented the taxi industry with significant challenges. 

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Secondly, there is an increase in the demand for taxi driver exams as the taxi industry is now recruiting heavily to fill the staff shortage. However, the CBR has to deal with a lack of capacity, which means that the number of exams that can be taken is limited. This causes long waiting times and further delays in resolving the staff shortage.

Moreover, this problem does not only affect the taxi sector. Coach drivers also experience long waiting times for their exams. This shows that it is a broader problem that affects the entire transport sector. In this context, the editorial's criticism of the role of the CBR in the current situation seems justified. While the CBR is not the cause of the original staff shortfall, it is clear that their current capacity issues are contributing to the delay in resolving the shortfall. It is therefore not unreasonable to say that the CBR plays a role in the ongoing problems in the taxi industry. It is therefore essential that all parties involved work together to find practical solutions and address the shortage of personnel in the transport sector.
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Photo: © Pitane Blue - Chairman of Royal Dutch Transport Bertho Eckhardt

Short term solutions

The organization advocates an increase in exam capacity at the CBR to facilitate the influx of new drivers. In the meantime, steps are being taken to extend the term of the Learning-Working Pathway (LWT) to alleviate the current pressure on the system.

“We currently see that more than 250 drivers are waiting for an exam and companies are stuck. Extending the LWT trajectory, even temporarily, can help mitigate this problem,” says Eckhardt.

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Long term solutions

For the future, KNV Zorgtransport en Taxi advocates a structural review of the current system, in which a good education remains central, but the sector becomes less dependent on the CBR.

“There is sufficient knowledge in the sector to train high-quality drivers yourself, without the need for an exam by the CBR. We should aim for a system where employed drivers are trained by the companies, under independent supervision. In this way, companies would no longer be dependent on the available capacity at the CBR.” concludes Eckhardt.

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