“I’ve been coming here for 15 years, and it’s always been a mess on Wednesday lunchtimes,” says Roger Journeau. This Wednesday, January 4, the coach driver participates in the usual waltz of school buses in downtown Avallon, after parking his vehicle along the parking lot.

It adds to the line of cars that is created on the road, from end to end of the rue des Odebert. “It’s dangerous for kids, some motorists drive very fast,” notes Arnaud Sautreau, a colleague who joined him. “And then, a lot of people come to eat there in addition, with the bakeries and restaurants in the area”, notes in turn Christian Colomba.

School buses park in single file along the parking lot of the Place des Odebert. Photo Maurin Balcaen.

Too many coaches and problematic schedules

Precisely, a driver wants to leave the parking lot: “I will be able to get out there?”, She asks the small group of drivers, who are now awaiting the arrival of schoolchildren, mostly from the Joan of Arc school group. “Wow, not until 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m. That’s when you see the driving lessons (laughter)”, one of them replies ironically, before guiding her between the space left by the cars to reach the road (see illustrative photo).

“In general, the drivers are not stupid. If there is a car here that has to leave, it can and we help it”, comments Jacky Poupee, who completes the meeting. And to affirm that at Les Chaumes, “it’s the same mess, and sometimes it hangs.”

The solution ? “It would take a bus to pick up all the schoolchildren here,” say the drivers, who explain that they drive almost empty. “Me at most, I only have five kids on the bus on Wednesdays,” notes one of them. “I have three” says another. “I only have one, a kid!” one last exclaims.

“Here, the schoolchildren go out at 12:05 p.m. All the other schools are at noon. They would go out at 11:55 a.m., that would spread out the flow a bit, like in the evening.”

Arnaud Sautreau (school bus driver)

They also point out the schoolchildren’s exit times, to justify the agglutination of buses in the square. “Here, they go out at 12:05 p.m. All the other schools are at noon. “You realize that we are leaving by quarter past. This is not normal. But all of this falls within the competence of the regional council and the town hall”, concludes Roger Journeau.

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Precisely, the municipality indicates that a reflection on this subject is well advanced, but not stopped. “The objective is that there are only two or three buses circulating in front of all the establishments, and which bring the children back to a new car park, which will not be in the city center”, Jamilah book Habsaoui, the mayor of Avallon.

“An equation with several unknowns”

An idea motivated by the stakes of the renovation of the Place des Odebert, planned for this year. “It should no longer be used for that, and become the green lung of the city center”, adds Bruno Villecourt, chief of staff of the town hall of Avallon. Aware of the problems induced by a new organization of school bus service. “In particular, it is necessary to manage to coordinate the arrival of buses from the outer villages, which come to pour into Avallon, with intramural transport in this same car park. So that there is enough space in the buses, and lead them to the good hours in front of the school.”

“The region is ready for any change, but not for the politics of the snow plow, which is to solve one problem by creating another elsewhere.”

Michel Neugnot (regional vice-president in charge of transport)

An “equation with several unknowns” which will have to be resolved in consultation with the Bourgogne Franche-Comté region, which manages school transport outside Avallon. “I am waiting for the municipality to make proposals to us and work with us on this subject”, indicates Michel Neugnot, vice-president of the region in charge of transport, who concedes that “the bus garage is always problematic”. Before saying “ready for any development, but not for the snowplow policy, which consists of solving a problem by creating another elsewhere.”

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Transport – School bus service creates chaos in Avallon, the municipality is looking for a solution