I have been providing transport to handicapped children for more than 30 years. I have enjoyed the work but over the last few years I have noticed that the pay rates have not kept pace with the growing costs, especially for short runs. Apparently a lot of other contractors shared my view and the situation came to a head early this year when many operators rightly refused to take on these commercially non viable runs. With “a pistol at its head” the department has produced new rates for each vehicle category which included fixed minimum charges These rates were at least commercially viable and I accepted them. However there seems to be a “sting in the tail”. In the past the pay rates were based on the seating capacity of the vehicle and it was the responsibility of the department to assign runs in an efficient way. However, a week ago I was informed that this will no longer be the case and the pay rate will be determined by the number of students carried on the run. In my case I have a purchased a “people mover” for this work.It can carry six but the department has arranged a run with only four students and assigned a lower pay rate based on the capacity of a sedan.I was dismayed. This new proposal was not mentioned in any of the contract documents and a bit of arithmetic showed that the rate was barely viable on my run. When I rang the department about this it was suggested to me that I should use a sedan instead of the wagon to reduce costs. This sounds like a good idea except for the fact that I do not know how many students will be on my run until the start of each school year (and sometimes well after this). Such a problem might not inconvenience a large operator with a number of runs and vehicles but is serious for me with a single run.If I used a vehicle with a capacity of only four and a run turned out to need five or more spaces I could not do it. For this reason I am using the wagon despite the higher cost to me when it is used for private transport.
Despite the fact that I enjoy the work I do and feel that it helps those in need I am now seriously considering weather to continue to do it.