The Flemish public transport corporation De Lijn has decided to launch the “Ring tram-bus” from Brussels Airport to University Hospital UZ Brussel on 28 June 2020.
This tram-bus route goes through Brussels Airport, Brucargo, Vilvoorde railway station, Vilvoorde village, Strombeek and UZ Brussel in Jette. The initial frequency will be 30 minutes and will be reduced to 15 minutes from September 2020.
Flemish Minister for Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters says: “This is a first for Flanders. With the use of these 24-metre tram-buses, with the look of a tram and the manoeuvrability of a bus, we ensure the completion of the Brabant network. This gives the Flemish periphery flexible and sustainable public transport. A major step forward for the modal shift and access in this congestion-sensitive region. In the start-up phase, during the quiet summer months, the tram-buses run every 30 minutes on line 820, but from 1 September 2020 it will be every 15 minutes and thus a good alternative for every commuter.”
A lot of work has been done in recent months to make this bus route possible. “It was not only about safety when manoeuvring,” said Marc Descheemaecker, Chairman of the Board of Directors of both De Lijn and Brussels Airport. “Safety and comfort for the traveller were also given full attention. New stops were built at the endpoints of line 820 at UZ Brussel in Jette and at Brussels Airport. The platforms were constructed in such a way that travellers are both waiting comfortably and getting in and out quickly and safely.”
Several other works were needed, such as separate bus lanes and also to make the ride smoother through all streets. “On the Luchthavenlaan in Vilvoorde those bus lanes are already there and the traffic lights have also been adjusted so that the tram-bus has priority” explains Marijn Struyf of construction company De Werkvennootschap. “We are also working on Sint-Annalaan in Vilvoorde and Grimbergen, and will redesign the centre of Vilvoorde as part of the Ring tram-bus. Every time a bus lane is ready, it is also put into use. This makes the Ring tram-bus a little smoother and more efficient every year,” says Struyf.
At Vilvoorde, a new depot is being finalised to welcome soon the 14 tram-buses, where they can be washed, refuelled and maintained.