Public transport company to be able to set its own fares

The Flemish public transport company De Lijn has signed a new management agreement with the Flemish Government. Under the conditions of the agreement De Lijn will no longer have seek the approval of the Flemish Government if it wishes to increase fares or modify its fares structure. The public transport company will be given greater autonomy and also allowed to privatise more of its services by contacting them out to sub-contractors. 

In the coming years around half the total amount of kilometres driven on De Lijn’s network of bus routes will be driven by drivers working for sub-contractors.

The new management contract is two years overdue. De Lijn and the Flemish Government should have agreed on a new contract in 2020. During the past two years the public transport company has operated under the conditions of the management contract agreed in 2015. The new management contract covers the period from the beginning of 2023 until the end of 2027.

De Lijn will be given greater autonomy when it comes to setting ticket prices. The idea is to allow the public transport company to move more quickly to adapt to changes in transport needs and to “support a more sustainable attitude towards transport”.

One possibility is making tickets more expensive during peak times and cheaper during quieter times of the day. However, setting the price of concessionary tickets for groups such as pensioners, children, jobseekers and those on benefits will remain the responsibility of the Flemish Government.

De Lijn will also be given greater freedom to decide which services should run, where and how often. There will be a further move towards the outsourcing of services to subcontractors. De Lijn will operate fewer services in-house while the proportion of De Lijn’s budget that will go to paying sub-contractors to operate services on its behalf will rise from 29.3% now to 33%. Meanwhile, the proportion of kilometres driven by subcontractors on behalf of De Lijn will rise from 48% to 53%.

The amount given by the Flemish Government to De Lijn for investment in our region’s public transport infrastructure is to increase by 120 million euro/annum to an average of 260 million euro/annum during the 5 years that management contract runs. This funding is intended for investments in bus and tram stations and to make public transport in our region more environmentally friendly. De Lijn’s basic operational subsidy will remain the same. 

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