On June 17, the ETF wrote to the EU Commissioner for Transport, to Members of the European Parliament and to the Member States to call for a social deployment of the EU recovery budget in bus and coach transport in Europe.
The Covid-19 lockdown cut deep into road passenger transport. Tourist coach operations, long-distance international trips and special domestic services such as school transport were completely shut down over the past three months.
EU member states and the European Commission are ready to mobilise funds to revive the sector. There will be loans and grants given to bus and coach operators which means that our drivers will soon return to work. However, there is a shortage of skilled drivers, and most of them are over 50 years of age. In some Member States – we are told – the annual retirement rate among bus and coach drivers can reach 10 to 15%.
Unfriendly work schedules, inadequate rest conditions, weekends away from home and poor levels of pay fail to meet the expectations of today’s job seekers. For all these reasons and more, young people think twice before choosing to work in road passenger transport.
Investing the EU money in a socially and economically sustainable way is key to re-building a modern road passenger sector, that meets the expectations of today’s workforce in terms of quality of life and work.
EU financial loans and grants made available under the EU recovery facility must be allocated to those bus and coach operators who have had a clean law-compliance record and who:
The EU must ensure that future road passenger transport provides a stable climate for people and businesses, and safe journeys for passengers and drivers. We believe that the above criteria will amply contribute to reaching this goal. The ETF urges the European Commission to include the above among the criteria used to assess the recovery plans and programmes submitted for funding by the Member States. Additionally, these plans will include job retention schemes to ensure a swift restart of the bus and coach service across Europe.