De Lijn seeks almost 1,000 new electric buses

Summary

The transport operator wants to make public transit in Flanders’ city centres emission-free within the next five years, while a change in tariff policy means cash will no longer be accepted on board

‘A step in the right direction’

Flemish transport operator De Lijn is in the market for almost 1,000 electric buses and related infrastructure, as it strives to make its services greener and ultimately make city-centre public transport emission-free in the next five years. A tender for the contract to supply the vehicles was launched this week, with the first e-buses expected to be in service between 2023 and 2025.

“We are fully committed to the greening of the fleet at De Lijn,” said mobility minister Lydia Peeters. “By 2025 we want our urban centres to be emission-free. By 2035, emission-free buses will run throughout Flanders. This is an important step in the right direction.”

The fleet currently consists of various types of buses: standard, articulated, city buses and micro buses. Similar types are provided for within the order for the e-buses, to respond to the specific needs of the various city centres and the Flemish periphery around Brussels. As an e-bus makes almost no noise, for safety reasons all vehicles will have a bell to warn pedestrians and drivers of their presence.

Standing together

“We only allow electrically powered buses in the new procurement procedures,” said Roger Kesteloot, director general of De Lijn. “We want De Lijn to be able to grow further into a top player and an example with regard to modern, high-quality and reliable public transport. Of course, the realisation of e-bus systems in Flanders can only succeed if all the partners involved stand together.”

De Lijn will install charging infrastructure at its depots and other strategic locations in and around city centres, with the cities and municipalities and other partners.

The cost of making the fleet greener is €608 million euros, with an additional €540 million needed for the investment in loading infrastructure, adjustments to depots, maintenance centres and technical centres, and modifications to transit stops.

Passengers central

Meanwhile, the Flemish government has approved De Lijn’s tariff policy, with one significant development being that drivers will no longer accept cash payments. Passengers without a monthly or annual pass can pay for tickets with a bank card on board or buy them in advance at vending machines, at Lijnwinkel ticket kiosks or via SMS. After a short transition period, cashless-only payment will take effect from 1 July.

“We must continue to strive for a customer-oriented and high-performance transport company in which the passenger is central,” Peeters said. “Contactless payment leads to an acceleration of ticket sales and also to more safety for the driver.”

Additionally, the most expensive ticket rate has been decreased from €3 to €2.50, and there is no increase to the cost of monthly subscriptions and the cheapest tickets. There is a small increase to the Buzzy Pazz and Omnipas. The new fares will apply from 1 February.

Photo: Courtesy De Lijn