Due to the outdated fleet and the staff shortage, the current number of journeys has become unfeasible, says CEO Ann Schoubs.
De Lijn is asking to be allowed to temporarily reduce its supply because the problems with materials and personnel make it impossible to fulfill all commitments. Director General of De Lijn Ann Schoubs made this known in the Flemish Parliament on Thursday. As soon as the capacity problems have been addressed, supply can increase again, according to Schoubs. According to her, an additional 100 million euros are needed annually to get the fleet and infrastructure in order.
During a hearing in the Flemish Parliament, Schoubs acknowledged that the public service contract (ODC) that De Lijn has concluded with the government provides more financing: the current government has increased investments to 270 million euros per year. But according to her, this catching up is not sufficient to absorb all the savings of the past, and certainly not to simultaneously respond to accelerated renewal and greening of public transport.
According to Schoubs, the outdated fleet and infrastructure have an impact on services. De Lijn is also unable to always deliver the promised service due to other problems, such as the shortage of drivers. That is why Schoubs suggests temporarily cutting back on supply. ‘The gap between the available capacity and what we want to do is too big. That is why we at De Lijn are asking for the offer to be scaled down to a level that we can effectively offer what we promise,” says Schoubs. As soon as capacity is restored, supply could be increased again.
Travelers in West Flanders are already experiencing the consequences of the problems today. The plan to close a number of depots has led to a strike. The unions want more clarity about the consequences of the plan for the staff. Many bus and tram journeys will therefore not be carried out today. A strike is also threatening in Antwerp.
Recently there was a head-on collision between the CEO of De Lijn and guardian minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD). After Schoubs criticized De Lijn’s underfunding in a newspaper interview and also used the word ‘rotten strategy’, the minister responded that De Lijn had to stop ‘complaining and whining’ and that they had to work on creative solutions instead of ‘to cry in the newspaper’.