Vlaamse Vervoermaatschappij De Lijn - usually known as De Lijn (in English, The Line) - is a company run by the Flemish government in Belgium to provide public transportation, similar to the way in which Belgian railroads or the postal system is run. It runs 1,942 buses and 305 trams. De Lijn was founded in 1991 after the public transportation companies of Antwerp and Ghent fused with the Flemish part of the NMVB (Nationale Maatschappij van Buurtspoorwegen, or the National Company of Neighborhood Railroads).
Socialist politician Steve Stevaert of Hasselt implemented a policy allowing senior citizens (ages 65 and up) to ride anywhere in Flanders for free. Other incentives exist for people under age 25. De Lijn is being viewed as an integral part to reduce heavily congested traffic, together with the NMBS (Belgium's railroad provider.)
In 2003, it transported more than 362 million passengers, for an area with a population of approximately 6.5 million.
De Lijn operates:
- Tramway in Antwerp. It contains both classical street-running tram lines as an underground light rail line (known as Antwerp Pre-metro).
- Tramway in Ghent. Mostly classical tramway with some reserved tram lines.
- Belgian coast tram - interurban tram line along whole Belgian coast, between De Panne and Knokke.
- Trolleybus in Ghent (only one line). The only trolleybus line in Belgium.
- All the urban, suburban and intercity buses in Flanders are operated by De Lijn. Because of the dense rail network, intercity buses serve as local transport between big cities and smaller communities. Time to travel from one city to another by bus is most often 1,5 or 2 times longer than for the same journey on the train. This is because bus lines are less straight, as they pass through many small towns that are not served by railway. The buses are also more city-style (no coach buses are used). Only in the Limburg province with few railways, the buses are the main mode of intercity travel. There are also express intercity buses there.
- Request buses (belbus, what means callbus). These serve in the regions with low population density.
The fares are the same on all types of De Lijn-operated transit.
- TEC - equivalent company in Wallonia
- Belgian coast tram (operated by De Lijn)
- Antwerp Pre-metro (operated by De Lijn)