The school transport of half of the Murcian students who use this service, some 10,000, is in the air just a few hours before the start of the academic year. As explained by sources from the Ministry of Education, several companies have decided not to continue covering school routes because “they do not agree to maintain the same routes they were doing until last June”, an explanation that the employers’ association Froet has not confirmed for the moment. .
Thus, this Friday 10,000 schoolchildren who depend on school transport will be left without service and on the ground on their first day of school. The provision of the school transport service is carried out through public contracting by companies in the sector. At present, according to Ministry sources, a framework contract is in force through which 97 routes have been awarded, while the rest were deserted.
To cover the service of the 336 pending routes, Education extended an invitation “to all the companies that had provided this service last school year, under the same conditions that have carried out the service in 2023. Of all of them, 101 routes were accepted and awarded for the academic year 2023-2024».
This same week, they say from the regional Administration, the Ministry learned that “some companies were not going to accept the invitations that the Ministry had sent them, and therefore they would not provide the school transport service on the routes that were not awarded , not accepting the same routes that they were doing until last June and with the same conditions.
The Ministry assures that “at this time, half of the school routes offered by the Community have already been awarded, guaranteeing school transport to 50% of the students who use this service. The Ministry maintains permanent contact with the sector and is working to find a solution within the current legal framework, in a range of prices ratified by the Central Administrative Court of Contractual Resources, adjusted to the reality of the market. In order to unblock this situation, the Ministry has proposed to the representatives of the sector the possibility of reviewing the contractual framework in 2024, which is when the legal term allows it, so that the school transport service can be provided and more stability to companies.
Education has made “a call for the social responsibility of the companies that provide this service, without questioning, of course, their legitimate business interest, since school transport is a service that guarantees compliance with a fundamental right included in the Constitution as it is that of education”.
Froet denounces that costs are not covered
For its part, the Regional Federation of Transport Organizations and Companies (Froet) stressed that the lack of profitability is the main reason why they will not compete for contracts for transport routes. They remember that the price of fuel has risen “20% in recent years”, the same percentage that they attribute to the cost of personnel, and that the Ministry has not updated prices for more than two years. “They date from the year 2021 and are even lower than those of the year 2009,” they denounce.
On the other hand, they point out that last year the service could be provided due to a discount of 20 cents in the price of fuel by the central government, but that as of next October the reduction will be five cents until the end of anus. For this reason, “given the perspective of working to lower costs”, from Froet they assure that the bus companies that carry out school routes have decided “to divert their businesses towards other more economically profitable sectors”.
Finally, from Froet they emphasize that companies “are free to provide the services they deem appropriate at a price that allows them to obtain reasonable benefits. The opposite would be jeopardizing their viability and the maintenance of almost 1,000 jobs.
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