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Cost of ticket more than doubles, as De Lijn announces new fares
Pensioners will have to pay €50 a year for a public transport season ticket with De Lijn from September next year, the company has announced. Until now, the over-65s have travelled free on De Lijn buses and trams, which operate across Flanders and in Brussels.
De Lijn unveiled its new fare proposal yesterday, which involves the loss of free travel for various groups and a hefty increase in single ticket prices. The changes, if approved by the government of Flanders, take place on February 1, with the exception of the new charge for seniors, which comes into force next September.
Other formerly free passes, such as for journalists and jobseekers, are also being scrapped. Free travel with De Lijn will be restricted to children under five, war veterans, the handicapped and their caregivers and members of parliament. Free transport for parliamentarians is guaranteed by the constitution, but De Lijn has invited MEPs to pay rather than accept the free pass.
Motorists who give up their cars and hand over their licence plates will receive an annual pass at half price.
The fare increases are the result of €35 million in cuts required because of a loss of government subsidy. “Cost cutting is never pleasant,” said CEO Roger Kesteloot. “We want to realise a large part of the savings via a change to fares, always with an eye out for the socially vulnerable.”
The annual Omnipas goes up from €249 to €294 – “relatively cheap” said Kesteloot, compared to the same ticket from Brussels transport authority, STIB, where it costs €499 a year. The Buzzy Pazz for young people up to 24 years goes up from €183 to €195. The second and subsequent young people in the same family pay less.
The cost of an ordinary ticket for a single journey will cost €3. At present a ticket bought in advance costs €1.30, or €2 if bought from the driver. The price of a ticket bought by SMS costs €1.80, up from €1.40 now. A Lijnkaart multiple ticket goes up from €10 to €14.
“We have never seen such a price increase,” Jan Coolbrandt of the ACV union told VRT. “We will have to wait and see how passengers react, but hopefully this will not lead to a downward spiral.” The union fears that passenger number will drop as a result, leading to further cuts in services.
Public transport user group TreinTramBus described the increases as “far too steep” and called on the government not to approve De Lijn’s proposals. Seniors’ organisation Okra said it was “cautiously pleased” with the amount of the new charge for its members.
“Originally there was talk of €180 a year, which is unacceptable,” said Okra spokesperson Niek De Meester. “We can get along with €50, as long as De Lijn gives us something for our money.”
photo courtesy Voogd075/Wikimedia