De Lijn desperate to recruit almost 500 new drivers

The Flemish public transport company De Lijn is looking to recruit almost 500 new bus drivers before the end of the year. This is proving difficult in some areas of the region with the shortage of candidates being particularly acute in the areas of Flemish Brabant nearest to Brussels. 

De Lijn’s Spokeswomen Astrid Hulhoven told VRT News that this is in part due to the fact the Brussels public transport company MIVB is also recruiting as are companies that offer shuttle bus services at Zaventem airport.   

The figures that form the basis of an article in Friday’s edition of the daily ‘De Standaard’ come from the Flemish Transport Minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) in response to a question posed by the Christian democrat member of the Flemish Parliament Orry Van de Wauwer. The figures also reveal that last year around one third of vacancies for drivers were not filled.   

This year De Lijn needs to recruit a total of 573 new drivers. The company says that 101 of these have already been found, 60 pf whom have already started work.  

This leaves 472 posts still to be filled. De Lijn’s Astrid Hulhoven told VRT News that “We hope that we will be able to find all these drivers, but it will probably be difficult. This is because we have difficulty finding candidates”.   

Flemish Brabant is especially badly hit by the lack of candidate for bus driving jobs. There are 50 vacancies remain unfilled.

Another issues is that of language. In order to work for De Lijn you need to have a knowledge of Dutch. Not only is this the language used for internal communication at what is the Flemish public transport company, but it is also the sole official language of a large portion of the municipalities served by De Lijn Flemish Brabant. A lack of (sufficient) knowledge of Dutch means that some candidates have to be rejected  

Add to this the fact that drivers are expected to work irregular hours and often are confronted with considerable stress, due to traffic congestion, issues with passengers etc.…Understaffing and pressure of work were among the issues that triggered last week’s strike by De Lijn drivers in Flemish Brabant.