Buses run by the Flemish public transport authority De Lijn have returned to their Brussels terminus under the North station in Brussels. The company abandoned its terminal, which serves 30 bus lines travelling into the capital, because of the presence of a large number of homeless people and migrants turned away from the Office for Foreigners, who De Lijn argued were contributing to an atmosphere of insecurity for passengers and drivers, as well as a marked hygiene problem.
Earlier in the week, both De Lijn and the Brussels Region – which governs the agreement allowing De Lijn to use the station terminal – reported that talks were going well, in a constructive atmosphere. A spokesperson for De Lijn said the company would not resume service from the North station without adequate warning to passengers, for whom the temporary change had caused some confusion.
In the meantime, De Lijn was picking up and dropping off passengers at Place Rogier, and drivers taking their break between runs parked illegally in the middle of Rue du Progres.
Now the situation is as before, with some notable concessions made by the Region to satisfy De Lijn’s demands. De Lijn has pledged to stop using alternative bus stops, but the hygiene situation in the terminal remains as before. The Region has promised more regular cleaning, a container for rubbish and toilets.
In addition, police will patrol more regularly, lighting will be improved and De Lijn’s central dispatch will have a direct line to police in the city. But passengers are meanwhile unimpressed.
“It’s still really filthy here, dirty and disgusting,” said one commuter to the VRT. “I’ve never seen it so filthy”.
“The cleaners have been once, but the sanitary facilities and rubbish containers still have to be put in place,” said Sonja Loos, spokesperson for De Lijn. “We have to be realistic, and of course we have no magic wand. We’re not quite there yet, and there’s a lot still to be done, but we have every confidence things will be worked out.”