Yesterday, Flemish minister for mobility Lydia Peeters issued a statement in which she promised an end to the situation faced by many children in the special needs schools: hours-long travel to and from school.
The problem was complex: too few buses, provided by public transport authority De Lijn; children scattered around the region, requiring circuitous itineraries. Peeters promised something would be done.
It was not to be. Even while her statement was being sent to the press, the bus that should pick up two children from Buggenhout in East Flanders – the two children whose parents had reported a five-hour each-way trip to and from school – failed to turn up. On the first day of the new school year.
And today? Same result. A no-show.
“Our bus supervisors were ready early in the morning for the long bus ride to get all students safe and sound to school,” said school director Jolien Roefs.
“It turned out to be in vain. Two buses never showed up. As a result, 38 students were left out in the cold for the second day in a row.”
According to Roefs, De Lijn forgot to order the necessary buses before 1 September. De Lijn then turned to another sub-contractor, she said, but she was not yet able to guarantee the extra bus rides.
“De Lijn failed to pass this on to us,” she said.
Nieuwsblad asked De Lijn what went wrong. “That is not information that I can conjure up,” says De Lijn spokesperson Karen Van der Sype. “We’re going to investigate.”