‘Families prefer car over train and bus as most attractive option’

The car is still the preferred mode of transport for families in Flanders, and the train remains an uninviting option. This is according to the latest family poll of the Gezinsbond, an independent family organization that surveyed 1,072 families.

Those same families also want safer cycle routes to school and find De Lijn’s new bus offers a step back at first. “The road to safe cycling links and accessible public transport is still long,” says Jeroen Sleurs, general director of the Gezinsbond. “We hope the Family Barometer can be the signal for a better mobility story.”

Train remains too expensive

The survey shows that the train is particularly little used for family trips. For example, 41% never use the train for family outings, and another 53% do so a few times a year at most. So, only 6% of families use the train regularly for family trips.

The reason? It’s too expensive. “Especially if you travel with children over 12, the price of public transport runs up quickly,” says Sleurs. “The car on the doorstep quickly becomes a more interesting option.” In addition, 48% complain about punctuality. Comfort and accessibility, on the other hand, score well.

Moreover, the organization is also concerned about abolishing the discount card for large families in the new fare structure announced for 2025.

New schedule De Lijn is also a flop

On January 6th, De Lijn’s new timetable started in many places in Flanders. Only 10% of the poll respondents indicated that the new scheme is an improvement. For 47%, it is a step backward – De Lijn also receives around 300 weekly complaints.

47% of people rate bus accessibility, in terms of finding a free seat, as poor. Sometimes, the bus does not even show up, and almost one in five children regularly passes by because it is too full, reports the family federation. Waiting time and travel frequency are also rated as bad to very bad by 47%.

Responding to the criticism, De Lijn informed the newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws that from April 15th, coaches will also be used as reinforcement on school rides during rush hour in certain regions. De Lijn also thinks it is too early to draw any significant conclusions.

Too many dangerous intersections for young cyclists

The barometer also shows that one in three young people always cycle to school. Another 30% do so sometimes. “But this is accompanied by mixed feelings,” Sleurs stresses. For instance, 73% of respondents encounter dangerous intersections on the route to school.

One in two also say bike lanes are missing on the route, and one in three encounter dangerous truck traffic on the way to school. Nine in ten cycling children under ten have an accompanying adult on their way to school.

Of those who do not cycle to school, 26% consider dangerous intersections a significant reason for not taking a bike. Only the children who are too young and live far away from school score higher as reasons for not cycling.

Although, in general, cycling has become much safer over the last few years, Sleurs insists that we still have a long way to go toward safe bicycle connections. 

No switch to shared mobility yet

Already, 15% of families also use shared mobility, yet families remain attached to private means of transport: 81% of families own at least one private car, and 32% own a company car.

The rise of the e-bike is also a fact among families: 40% of families own at least one e-bike, compared to 78% of families that own at least one bicycle.

Also striking: 55% are more likely to favor the introduction of a kilometer charge, compared to 32% who are more likely to oppose it.


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