Flemish public transport authority De Lijn announced on Tuesday it will be buying 350 new electric buses, 60 of which will enter the fleet in the second half of next year.
De Lijn has been exclusively purchasing buses with alternative propulsion since 2019, specifically hybrid and e-hybrid buses equipped with the latest filter technology.
"With this tender, we are going one step further: e-buses that run completely emission-free thanks to battery technology," Lydia Peeters, Flemish Minister of Mobility said in a press release.
During the first trial period, drivers in the participating depots (Genk-Winterslag, Destelbergen near Ghent, and Kortrijk) will be trained, and the depots will be adapted to the new vehicles to scale up usage in the next phases.
The entire tender (350 e-buses and their charging infrastructure) is worth up to €230 million.
The e-buses don't emit nitrogen or fine dust - which benefits the air quality - whilst the elimination of the diesel engine also ensures buses make less noise. All buses will also be fitted with an electric ramp for travellers in wheelchairs or pushchairs.
"De Lijn is determined to make its entire fleet emission-free by 2035. This first tender for e-buses will not only make a fine contribution to a better environment, but it is also an important milestone in the transformation of De Lijn into a more performant public transport company that can better anticipate the needs and expectations of the traveller," said Ann Schoubs, Director General of De Lijn.
Schoubs drew back the initial Flemish government’s target of having all buses 100% emissions-free in town and city centres by 2025 after she told the mobility committee of the Flemish parliament in March that this goal was "unrealistic".
De Lijn's current plan, which will see it get rid of the oldest and most polluting buses in its fleet, could reduce total emissions by 78% by 2025.
The objective to focus on greener transport was anchored in the management agreement of De Lijn and in the Flemish coalition agreement.