to updateDe Lijn is demanding that it be allowed to temporarily reduce its supplies because the carrier cannot always reliably fulfill promised supplies due to material and personnel problems. This was stated by De Lijn Managing Director Ann Schoubs in the Flemish Parliament on Thursday. Once production capacity issues are addressed, supply could rise again, according to Shoppes. But according to Schops, an additional 100 million euros are needed annually to put the fleet and infrastructure in order.
Recently there was a head-on collision between CEO De Lijn and Guardian Minister Lydia Peeters (Open Vld). After Schops criticized De Leyen’s underfunding in a newspaper interview and also used the word “corrupt strategy”, the minister responded that De Leyen should stop “complaining and complaining” and that they should work on creative solutions instead of “crying”. In a newspaper.”
Meanwhile, according to Schops, several conversations took place with the minister, and according to her, there is definitely “no problem in mutual relations.” “But my job as CEO is to highlight the problems that exist. We are now in a position where we cannot achieve the paradigm shift required,” Schops explained.
During a hearing in the Flemish Parliament, Schops acknowledged that the public service contract (ODC) that De Leyen concluded with the minister for the period 2023-2027 provides for a “shift” in funding, but that this necessary “catch-up” is not quite sufficient to cover everyone to absorb previous savings and in At the same time responding to the accelerated renewal and greening of public transport.
Shoppes once again raised – with a host of numbers – the problem of outdated fleet and infrastructure. For example, buses are on average about 10 years old, while the average is only 7 years and 30 percent of buses are more than 15 years old. The tracks are also on average 16.7 years old, while the best is only 12.5 years.
The current government has increased investments to 270 million euros annually. But according to Schöps, 370 million euros will be needed annually to maintain buses, trams and tracks at a healthy level and to ensure the necessary innovation and greening.
Impact on services
According to Shops, the aging fleet and infrastructure are also having an impact on services. “Trams have to run slower because the tracks are old, older buses are more prone to breakdowns, maintenance costs are higher, and the old bus provides less comfort,” Schops pointed out.
Add to this other problems, such as a shortage of drivers, and you know that De Lijn can’t always deliver the range and service it promises. This is also why Shoppes suggests we might – temporarily – reduce supply. “The gap between available capabilities and what we promise is very large. For this reason, we at De Lijn demand that the offer be reduced to the level where we can effectively deliver what we promise,” says Schops. Once capacity is restored, supply can be increased again.
According to opposition parties, Shops figures prove that too many cuts have been made to public transport in the past. For example, José Dési (PVDA) spoke of “construction theft” in De Lien, while Stijn Bex (Green) spoke of “help” by successive Flemish governments.
But De Leyen’s approach of temporarily reducing supply appears to have little or no support. “Reducing supply is not the answer the traveler is waiting for. Government funding must be increased,” said Forruit MP Els Robins.
Also, a lower offer is not an option at all for Groen and PVDA. Gruen urged the minister to develop a real “contingency plan.” There also appears to be little interest among the majority in the discounted offer. For example, Bert Mertens (N-VA) and Karin Broers (CD&V) asked what a reduction in supply should look like and whether the reduction was proportional to the agreements made in the public service contract and basic accessibility.
Schoops defended himself, saying, “I’d rather not do that.” According to her, it is a matter of “choosing between plague and cholera” and the intention is to “lower the bar a little so that we can effectively deliver what we promise.” Shoppes was unable to determine how long the supply decline would last. “It is better that it is not too long, but I cannot say whether it will be six or seven months. Above all, we must ensure that we can guarantee the promised services.
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