Fewer Flemish buses before 10am on Sundays

The Flemish local transport company De Lijn has unveiled drastic plans to axe some bus services before 10am on Sunday mornings and after 7pm in the evenings. The company says that it needs to make the changes as a result of the cuts.

De Lijn's board met today and endorsed the plan.

Next year De Lijn is supposed to make savings worth 34 million euros. Fares are going up and free travel for over 65s has been abolished.

De Lijn says that only services that operate under-capacity and that run in rural areas will be hit. The company claims that no commuters will be affected.

Thirty percent of passengers who take the bus on a Sunday currently do so before 10am or after 7pm.

The passengers' organisation TrainTramBus has attacked the plans: "There are students who travel from rural areas to market towns on a Sunday morning. For many a cultural outing to a town or village will no longer be possible. This is a blow to the cultural sector."

TrainTramBus also points out that De Lijn will violate Flemish law that guarantees that all Flemings have a right to a bus or tram service until 11pm.

Jan Vanseveren: "If the plans go ahead, a basic right is being infringed."

The organisation sees two possible solutions.

"If traffic lights were co-ordinated for buses and trams so that they always encounter a light at green, then one tram service an hour could be economised on all lines in Ghent and Antwerp."

The organisation also believes that collective taxis could prove to be at least part of the solution.

TrainTramBus hopes it can convince De Lijn to modify its plans before they are implemented.