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Stib launches first fully electric bus line in Brussels

11:21 15/06/2018
Manneken Pis pees green on the buses of the new line 33, which connects uptown to downtown sans noise and exhaust

A new bus line launched earlier this month that connects two of Brussels-City’s most crucial neighbourhoods – the upper and lower parts of downtown. Line 33 links Louise to Dansaert, via several key stops, including the Sablon, Grand’Place and Saint-Gery.

It is a line that should prove particularly popular for tourists, shoppers and entertainment-seekers, coming within a few steps of Central Station, Manneken-Pis and Ancienne Belgique.

If that sounds suspect because of the narrow streets involved and the proximity to the pedestrian zone, there’s a reason: The buses of line 33 were specifically manufactured in a smaller size to manoeuvre the tightest corners. And every single one of them is electric.

A new era in transport

It’s the first bus line in Brussels to be fully electric. Public transport authority Stib refers to them as Citybuses, and it ordered seven of them made to measure from the Polish manufacturer Solaris.

Citybuses are immediately recognisable, painted bright green and light blue, and covered in flowers. (On the back of the bus, a little Manneken Pis pees a green leaf.)

The buses have space for 22 seated and 20 standing and run every 20 minutes. They are charged overnight and can run an entire day without needing to be recharged. Drivers have been specially trained to operate the Citybuses.

Brussels' new Citybus

Being electric, Citybuses are also much quieter than normal petrol-fuelled buses so as not to cause noise nuisance for residents living downtown. They also, of course, emit no exhaust fumes.

The launch of Citybus is being heralded as the start of a new era in public transport in the Brussels-Capital Region. “As promised, Stib’s first electric buses are on the streets this summer,” said mobility minister Pascal Smet. “This is the first step towards a fully electric fleet by 2030.”

There are a few standard-size electric buses on other Stib lines, and the authority has ordered an additional 90 electric hybrid buses – this time from Volvo – to add to other lines in the over the coming year. It has also ordered 25 articulated hybrid buses, with a call for bids out for 145 more.

“We are on our way towards an important change to Stib’s network,” said CEO Brieuc de Meeûs. “Passengers will be introduced to new vehicles over the coming months, and our staff will discover new technologies. The network will be adapted to service new areas and optimise existing connections and travel times. I am so proud to be here to experience the start of this new era in mobility.”

Stib line 33 route

Photos courtesy Stib

Written by The Bulletin