Belbus is a service whereby people that live in areas not reasonably served by scheduled bus services can call and book a mini-bus that will come and pick them up to for example take them to the nearest town or a supermarket to go shopping.
The Christian, socialist and liberal trade unions say that the strike is being observed by a large portion of those that work for De Lijn. However, as drivers that work for sub-contractors are working as normal around 70% of services are still running. It is a mixed picture though with urban areas being more heavily impacted by the strike than rural areas and small towns.
At around 9am around 60% of drivers (including sub-contractors) were working.
The cities such as Ghent and Antwerp are the hardest hit and a large portion of trams services there and along the Flemish coast aren’t running.
De Lijns’ Karen Van der Sype told VRT News that in Antwerp Province the biggest impact on services can be felt in and around the city of Antwerp. She added that in Ghent there are delays and many services have been cancelled. Bus services in Bruges and Kortrijk (West Flanders) and services that operate between Flemish Brabant and Brussels are also hit hard by the strike as are coastal tram services.
Outside the cities the impact of the strike is less, not least because many routes in rural areas and small towns are operated by sub-contractors.
The disruption will continue for the rest of the day and night bus services that operate on Friday night may also be subject to cancellation.
The “Belbus” contact centre’s telephone exchange is not staffed due to the strike. However, online reservation is still possible.
Most of De Lijn’s Lijnwinkel ticket retail and information outlets are closed with the exception of the Lijnwinkels in Turnhout (Antwerp province), Kortrijk and Ostend (West Flanders) and the mobile Lijnwinkel in Sint-Truiden (Limburg).