De Lijn plans major shake-up

The Flemish public transport company De Lijn is planning a major shake-up of how it operates. According to a report in Monday’s edition of the daily ‘De Morgen’, if and when the changes take effect De Lijn will introduce a system whereby, shorter bus routes will serve as feeders into longer distance bus routes on major roads that link the region’s towns.

This inevitably means that more passengers than is currently the case will have to change bus to reach their destination.

The public transport system in Flanders will be made up of three “layers”. The top layer will remain the railways that would be used for travel from town to town or from city to city. The second “layer” will be the “core network”, a network of mayor bus (and tram) routes that are served at a high frequency.

In addition to this they are bus routes that also follow a well-defined route, but less frequently. The fourth “layer” is the complementary network that is made up of bike and car share services and De Lijn’s taxi bus service Belbus.

Passengers to change more frequently

Despite passengers having to change more often, De Lijn maintains that they will reach their destination quickly. The Managing Director of De Lijn Roger Kesteloot (photo) told the paper that.

"We know that changing busses is something that people don’t like doing. This is unless by doing so they will reach their destination more quickly”.

"We intend to run very frequent bus and tram services on the “core network”, so that passengers will never have to wait long to change. This means that they will reach their destination more quickly than if they had remained on a direct bus service that makes detours through a load of rural villages”.

Under the proposals it would appear to be more difficult for people from smaller rural municipalities to travel into town.

However, De Lijn says that it intends to work with local authorities to obtain a clearer idea of which routes are most important.

"The decision about the routes that make-up the “core network” will be taken at Flemish regional level. However, decisions about the lesser routes will be taken by the transport region councils in which the towns and municipalities are represented”, Mr Kesteloot added.

New system won’t cost a penny

De Lijn maintains that the new system will be budget neutral.

Furthermore, an internal reorganisation will mean that De Lijn will scrap its 5 regional departments, moving all HR, purchasing and finance activities to the public transport company’s headquarters in Mechelen (Antwerp Province).

A number of pilot projects will test the new system that is intended to be introduced by 2020.