There are growing concerns about the GVB having to cut bus, tram, and metro lines as staff shortages at the Amsterdam public transport company mount. The GBV is looking for 400 new people, including 300 “driving staff,” AT5 reports. And existing employees are buckling under the increasing workload.
Without fresh bus, metro, tram, and ferry drivers, the GVB can’t keep up with its current timetable, according to the Amsterdam broadcaster. On the water, the problem is already so acute that the GVB can’t run extra rush hour ferries, as the municipality had requested.
Earlier this year, the GVB published its provisional timetable for the coming years, showing it had to cut metro line 53 to Zuidoost and some tram traffic in the city center. The plans would impact mobility in the city, especially in conjunction with climate plans allowing for less car traffic. The municipality of Amsterdam and the transport region – the partnership of the 14 regional municipalities that act as the GVB’s clients – quickly pushed millions of euros into the transport company to keep the public transport network up to standard.
But more money alone won’t fix the staffing problems in the Netherlands’ tight labor market. “Our number one concern is the personnel problem,” GVB director Claudia Zuiderwijk told AT5.
And existing employees are buckling under the higher workload caused by filling gaps in rosters and picking up the slack. The GVB’s annual satisfaction survey showed that 60 percent of its driving staff, and even 76 percent of its bus drivers, experienced the workload as too high last year. And absenteeism among driving staff was about 11 percent.
It’s a “downward spiral,” Eric Vermeulen of the trade union FNV Stadstransport told AT5. “There is a lot of absenteeism, which increases the workload, which causes even more absenteeism, which increases the workload. It only exacerbates the problems.”
According to AT5, drivers complain about unrealistic driving times – the times it takes to drive a trip – making them feel in a “constant rush.” GVB employees are assessed on their punctuality, causing extra pressure. Irregular working hours and equipment issues also cause stress.
When asked about the complaints, the GVB told AT5 that it is “not our impression” that the high workload plays a role in its staff shortages. The transport company pointed out that the labor market is tight, and many businesses in many sectors are facing staff shortages. According to the GVB, most of its employees are generally satisfied and rate their employer “a big seven.”