First conceived in 2015 and delayed twice since 2021, the Flanders region’s “Basisbereikbaarheid” (basic accessibility) plan is set to begin in January 2023. Rather than being initiated in a “big bang”, as previously planned, the reforms will be slowly introduced in several phases, Flemish Minister for Mobility, Lydia Peeters, announced on 11 August.
The reforms should see an increase in the availability of public transport in the four “levels” of the region, including the rail network, ‘core’ network, complementary network, and tailor-made transport, Belgian newspaper La Libre Belgique reports.
One of the goals of the reforms will be to also use private taxis and bus services to bridge gaps in the network and introduce a new regional smartphone application.
The minister explained at a press conference in Brussels that she had changed her mind about the pace of the reforms, opting to gradually introduce the reforms. “We need to start a phased roll-out as soon as possible, starting from the existing transport offer and current transport companies and developing flexible transport,” Peeters said.
The role of De Lijn is set to be significantly expanded. Under its administration, the Flanders region will place several “layers” of transport management, under a four-year contract. A new call centre, responsible for booking, planning, and paying for public transport, will be made operational from the end of 2022, in areas where De Lijn offers dial-a-ride buses.
The Flemish government is set to begin a communication campaign in September to make the public aware of the upcoming changes before the first reforms appear next January.