In the year 2022, approximately one-fourth of buses and trams in Flanders failed to adhere to their scheduled timetables. Additionally, nearly 275,000 rides were

canceled during the previous year, indicating a 50 percent increase over a span of four years. The number of cancellations due to insufficient staff has even quadrupled.

Despite the Flemish government's efforts to promote public transportation and alleviate traffic congestion, recent statistics presented by Flemish Mobility Minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD, liberal party) in response to a request from Flemish MP Els Robeyns (Vooruit, social democrats) reveal a significant number of vehicles running off schedule. 'On time' is defined by De Lijn as arriving within two minutes of the scheduled time or being no more than five minutes late.

"Distressing and Unacceptable Statistics"

Furthermore, in 2022, a total of 274,671 rides were canceled, marking a significant increase of 92,030, or roughly 50 percent, in comparison to the 182,641 canceled rides in 2018. Notably, the number of cancellations resulting from staffing issues, particularly a scarcity of drivers, quadrupled between 2018 and 2022, rising from 37,543 to 151,818. Moreover, nearly 20,000 rides were canceled due to technical problems, indicating a doubling in frequency over the course of four years.

"How can we expect people to rely on public transport when buses and trams consistently arrive late or not at all?" "These figures are disheartening and unacceptable," responded MP Robeyns from Vooruit during the Flemish parliament session on Friday. "One out of every four buses or trams arrives more than five minutes late. How can we expect people to rely on public transport when buses and trams consistently arrive late or not at all?" Robeyns emphasized the urgent need for the Flemish government to invest in improved, accessible, and affordable public transport, thereby encouraging a mass transition to public transportation.

Shortage of Staff and Traffic Congestion

"We fully agree," stated De Lijn spokesperson Frederik Wittock in response. "Particularly in Antwerp, Leuven, and the Flemish periphery (around Brussels), the shortage of staff is creating challenges for us. We face competition from the port and airports for specific job profiles in those areas." Similar staffing issues are also emerging in Ghent. Thanks to extensive recruitment campaigns, one-third of the 900 open vacancies since the beginning of this year have already been filled.

However, heavily congested roads are also hindering the services provided by De Lijn. "We make every effort to ensure that trams and buses adhere to their schedules, but we are also affected by traffic congestion," stated the public transport company. On Friday morning, De Lijn introduced a new app that enables passengers to track their rides in real-time, aiming to improve transparency and convenience. Photo by Heipedia, Wikimedia commons.