Flemish public transport company De Lijn plans to spend up to €400,000 a year on outfitting all new buses and trams with more durable leather seats.
De Lijn made a deal with the British company E-Leather Ltd., reports De Standaard.
They’ll supply leather seats for De Lijn’s vehicles for at least four years, and possibly up to eight.
“The intention is to provide all new buses and trams with leather upholstery,” said spokesperson Astrid Hulhoven.
“The newest CAF trams already have it, just like the previous generation, the Albatro trams. Because several Hermelijne trams – the previous model – still have a considerable lifespan, we are also replacing the upholstery of the seats on the newer ones.
Reclaimed leather for an upgraded look
“It's recycled leather, which gives our vehicles an upgraded look, and which is also more durable, hardwearing and easier to clean,” Hulhoven explained.
Reclaimed leather is leather made from cutting residue, which is then ground and compressed.
With up to €400,000 worth of leather upholstery a year, in eight years' time, the cost for De Lijn can rise to a maximum of €3.2 million.
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“If the comfort of public transport increases, maybe more people will leave their cars at home,” said Ben Weyts (N-VA), Minister of Mobility in the previous Flemish Government, when he first proposed the idea of leather seats.
Roger Kesteloot, then managing director of De Lijn, agreed: “The comfort of the seats determines to a large extent how travellers feel about their journey.”
The earlier contract had a value of €1.9 million, a cost De Lijn explained would be recuperated because leather seats are easier to maintain than the old, cloth seats.