In Kortrijk, Belgian’s public transport company De Lijn, in collaboration with the city and the police, has introduced a bus ban for someone who caused a nuisance on a bus. It is the first time in Flanders that this new type of place ban has been applied. The measure means that the person in question cannot take the bus for two months on a specific route.
Since the start of this school year, De Lijn received several reports of nuisance on a busy after-school bus route to the station. This often involved a group of youths being aggressive toward the bus driver.
Two-month bus ban
The police were able to identify some instigators, and one of them, a 19-year-old man from Kortrijk, received the first bus ban in February: a place ban applicable to the specific route the person in question took.
The ban means that that person is not allowed to be present on that specific bus route for two months, while also receiving a guidance program. “This was also so conveyed to the parents and to the school because the person was not supposed to miss school as a result,” says Mayor Ruth Vandenberghe (Team Burgemeester). “He must organize his travel differently for two months. That way, respect is taught for public transport and its performers.”
20% increase in aggression
If the person still takes the bus, he risks a GAS fine. ‘GAS’, or municipal administrative sanctions, have been introduced with the aim of acting against nuisance phenomena that are often not serious enough to be tackled through criminal courts.
Since the pandemic, there has been a 20% increase in aggression toward bus drivers, says De Lijn. The latest figures show that in 2022, De Lijn drivers faced 1 255 cases of verbal aggression and 134 cases of physical aggression. Altogether, more than one-fifth more incidents were thus recorded than in 2021. There are also more reports of sexually transgressive behavior in vehicles or at stops.
App for registration of special education pupils
On Tuesday, it also became known that De Lijn wants to register every special education pupil who takes the bus via an app. This is what the newspaper Het Belang van Limburg writes.
Bus drivers must register every child when boarding via an app on a smartphone. This should reduce paperwork and increase efficiency. A test phase with 1 001 school rides will start in May and run until June. The roll-out across Flanders will follow in September.
The Federation of Belgian Bus and Coach Operators (FBAA), which runs such school services for De Lijn, is pushing for urgent consultations. They fear delays and think the project is being introduced far too abruptly without much consultation.
With the plan, De Lijn wants to improve the whole process of pupil transport, use vehicles more efficiently, and reduce administrative pressure on operators.
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