FBAA: ‘Coaches can stand in for overcrowded public buses’
The buses of public transport company De Lijn are overcrowded before and after school hours. “Schools are doing what they can to respect social distancing, but children are packed on overcrowded buses. This is unacceptable,” says virologist Steven Van Gucht. So, coach companies are offering their services because, since the coronavirus outbreak, 1 700 coaches are standing still.
De Lijn is flooded with complaints about overcrowded buses and the situation will probably grow worse as the school year will progress. “We already are at our maximum capacity,” De Lijn says. “We cannot increase the number of drivers or buses, the only thing we can do is to move the available capacity.” Geert Witterzeel of the ACV union asks the Flemish government to free additional means so that De Lijn can add extra buses.
Meanwhile, there might be a solution coming from the private sector: coach companies are offering their services. Since the corona health crisis, this summer, they lost 90% of their normal work, according to calculations of the umbrella organization FBAA.
2 700 drivers out of work
“Today, more than 1 700 coaches are standing still, and 2 700 drivers are out of work, says Kim Taylor,” the spokesperson of FBAA. “We know it won’t be easy to put in coaches into the normal routes of De Lijn but with some preparation, we will manage.”
Political party CD&V advocates the solution but also pleads to measure seat occupancy.