Brussels’ fleet of double-decked tourist buses is to covert to electric-powered vehicles by 2021, the first such conversion in the world.
The buses are known as hop-on hop-off: they follow a circular route around the main city attractions, and passengers are able to get off at any point, visit the tourist spot and then get on the next bus on the route, all for the price of one ticket. The formula is in use in hundreds of cities worldwide.
In Brussels the circuit is run by the public transport authority Stib via a concessionaire. This week the Stib said the new concessionaire selected to run the service would be RATP Dev, which would bring in a fleet of 12 new electric buses. The French-owned RATP runs hop-on hop-off services in Paris, Nice, London and Bath, England. The concession lasts for eight years.
RATP is due to take up its rights one year from now. Until then Brussels Sightseeing, owners of the familiar red double-decker buses, will complete its contract. The terms remain the same as far as established timetables, year-round services and a fixed route are concerned – the conditions required so that tourists know where and when to catch their next bus, especially important in unfamiliar parts of a foreign city.
“Both the regional authorities and the Stib want the environmental footprint of these tourist services to be minimal,” commented Brieuc de Meeûs, CEO of the Stib. “That is why the specifications of this public service concession impose the exclusive use of electric buses. RATP Dev will specifically acquire for Brussels a whole new fleet of fully electric, silent and emission-free tourist buses.”
“We are proud that Brussels is the first city to welcome the iconic tourist buses in their silent and environmentally friendly version,” said Brussels mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen).