A quarter of buses and trams in Flanders do not run on time
In 2022, a quarter of buses and trams in Flanders did not run on time. In addition, almost 275,000 journeys were cancelled last year, an increase of 50 per cent over four years. The number of cancellations due to staffing problems has quadrupled.
The Flemish government wants to encourage people to use public transport more to reduce congestion. However, the figures provided on Friday by Flemish Mobility minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) at the request of Flemish MP Els Robeyns (Vooruit) show a large number of vehicles do not run on time. "On time" is defined by De Lijn as less than two minutes early or less than five minutes late.
'Sad and unacceptable figures'
In addition, 274,671 rides were cancelled in 2022, an increase by 92,030 or approximately 50 per cent compared to the 182,641 cancelled rides in 2018. Notably, the number of rides cancelled due to staffing problems, especially a lack of drivers, quadrupled between 2018 and 2022 from 37,543 to 151,818. In addition, nearly 20,000 rides were cancelled for technical reasons, doubling in four years.
"How do we want more people to take public transport if the bus or tram arrives late or not at all?"
These are "sad and unacceptable figures", Robeyns said in the Flemish parliament on Friday. "One in four buses or trams arrives more than five minutes late. How do we want more people to take public transport if the bus or tram arrives late or not at all?" She says the Flemish government should "urgently invest in better, accessible and affordable public transport for all so that people switch to public transport en masse".
Staff shortages and traffic jams
"We can only agree with that," said De Lijn spokesperson Frederik Wittock. "Especially in Antwerp, Leuven and the Flemish periphery [around Brussels], the staff shortage is causing problems. We are competing with the port and airports for certain profiles there." The same problem is also starting to appear in Ghent. Thanks to large-scale recruitment campaigns, a third of the 900 vacancies open since the beginning of this year have been filled.
However, heavily congested roads are also hampering service at De Lijn. "We do everything we can to keep trams and buses running on schedule, but we too are victims of traffic jams," Wittock says says. On Friday morning, De Lijn introduced a new app which allows travellers to track their rides in real time.
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