De Lijn will not increase ticket prices in 2024
Flemish public transport operator De Lijn has announced that its ticket prices will not increase in 2024. Any potential fare adjustments in 2025 will need to be deliberated by the upcoming Flemish government.
The statement comes in response to a report from Het Laatste Nieuws, suggesting that De Lijn intended to raise ticket prices due to escalated inflation-related costs.
"De Lijn is not seeking an immediate fare hike, and therefore this is not a consideration before 2024," the company said. It reaffirms its commitment to its agreement with the Flemish government, confirming that fares will remain unchanged in 2024.
However, it acknowledged that "the non-indexation of fares has an impact on our operating resources". De Lijn CEO Ann Schoubs highlighted in Het Laatste Nieuws an anticipated annual impact of 25 million euros resulting from non-indexation in 2023 and 2024.
The company has included in its recently proposed memorandum to the upcoming Flemish government a request for "an increase in the operating budget by approximately 100 million euros to offset the extended lifespan (including that of our raw materials)". In total, De Lijn is seeking an additional 300 million euros annually, which includes funds for environmental initiatives in the fleet and infrastructure maintenance.
"De Lijn is in full transition; last weekend, phase two of the new transport plans via basic accessibility/Hoppin came into effect. Instead of increasing ticket prices now, we want to encourage more people to make sustainable choices more often and use public transport," said Flemish Mobility minister Lydia Peeters of Flemish liberal party Open VLD.
Opposition parties Vooruit, Groen and Vlaams Belang do not want more expensive tickets, but they point the finger at the Flemish government. "Higher ticket prices for less service. It couldn't be more ironic," said Flemish MP Els Robeyns of socialists Vooruit, referring to the removal of a large number of stops from the transport network. "It is up to the Flemish government to invest in De Lijn. Not up to the passengers," she said.
According to Vlaams Belang MP Wim Verheyden, higher ticket prices on top of the cancelled stops would "even increase transport poverty".
"Higher ticket prices for less service. It couldn't be more ironic"
Groen MP Stijn Bex says that minister president Jan Jambon appears to have ruled out the possibility of additional investments in De Lijn. In the VRT radio program De Ochtend, Jambon said on Monday that the company's resources had already been increased and that the budgets had been determined.
This information follows passenger association TreinTramBus's report of over 250 messages concerning De Lijn's new transport plan, which involves removing more than 3,200 stops. "There are clearly more disadvantaged people at the moment," Kees Smilde, spokesperson for TreinTramBus, said on Monday. "These are passengers who must travel longer than before, change buses more or walk further to a stop."
Peeters says the transport plan will be adjusted if necessary.
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