Monday, 06 September 2021
Flemish bus line De Lijn will provide a total of six extra buses for the students with special educational needs in the neighbourhood of Buggenhout.
This is two more buses than the four to which the school group is entitled, but had not yet received.
Last week, which was the first of the new school year, special-needs children were left waiting for buses that never arrived.
There were stories in the Belgian press regarding some students who faced commutes of up to five hours at a time, both ways, in order to get to school.
Flemish mobility minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) promised to take action regarding the issue, which is said to be due to a shortage of available buses, and the Flemish Government made €1.8 million available in order to tackle the problems.
At Blijdorp, a school where last week a 4-year-old toddler was asked to be ready for an hours-long ride by 5:56 AM, they say some temporary solutions have already been implemented.
The absence of two of four required buses had created an unfeasible schedule, which was eventually rejected by the management, according to reporting from De Standaard.
De Lijn went looking for additional capacity and on Monday the two promised buses were available.
“Those two buses went out this morning,” manager Ria Vermeulen told the Dutch-language newspaper.
“One bus was right on time, the other had a slight delay, but it was a new driver and a new attendant. They have to get used to it, that’s normal.”
On Monday, those students weren’t required to wake up before daybreak: the buses picked up the pupils from 7:00 AM and 7:30 AM.
De Lijn communicated on Monday that two additional buses would be soon deployed, so that a later departure time for some pupils would be negotiable.
“I’m very happy with that,” said the director of the affected school. “Sometimes everything works out.”
Various other schools will soon be getting additional buses.
De Lijn is looking into whether there is room with the current operators to make these journeys possible as early as this month.
There will also be a call to find operators for all additional rides from 1 October until the end of the school year.
The Brussels Times