With plans for an international bus station at Erasmus not materialising and no mention of one in the plans to renew Gare du Nord, Brussels continues its quest for a suitable station location.
The search for a location for the international bus station has been going on for "over 25 years" but its construction is "being delayed all the time," said Brussels MP Gaëtan Van Goidsenhoven, who questioned Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van Den Brandt on the current situation.
"Two-thirds of travellers [using international buses] are transit passengers who often transfer to another bus but also sometimes continue their journey with an international or national train connection," Van den Brandt's spokesperson, Pieterjan Desmet, told Bruzz.
"Buses are relatively sustainable and it is important for us to provide a good connection and good accessibility to the city."
Staying close to a train station
The current locations under consideration include Heysel, Herrmann-Debroux (which has a 15-minute metro connection to the Gare Centrale) and Ceria (in Anderlecht), but bus companies prefer to stay near a train station and favour the current stops at Brussels Midi and Gare du Nord.
The proposal to move to the Erasmus site was opposed by Flixbus, the Erasmus Hospital and the Anderlecht municipality.
Although many international buses currently stop closeby Brussels Midi and Gare du Nord train stations, neither location is popular with City authorities. For example, the master plan for redeveloping Gare du Nord does not feature an international bus station, said Desmet.
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Despite not being the City's preferred locations, officials recognise the utility of situating bus stops close to train stations. And although it is not yet clear how much longer it will be to find a new location, city planners have expressed "their ambition" to find one sooner rather than later.
In the meantime, Flixbuses will continue to arrive at their temporary stop on Boulevard Roi Albert II close to the Gare du Nord, despite protests denouncing the location as dangerous following the recent death of a bicycle courier there.
In April, activists claimed that nothing had changed in terms of road safety even two months after the man's death, but Desmet argued that bollards had been installed and space had been made for six buses.
While this has solved the previous capacity problem, and Flixbus is employing stewards to help bus drivers park correctly and traffic signs prohibiting private parking were installed last week, the area continues to be very dangerous for cyclists.