The Flemish public transport company De Lijn has launched procedures to purchase hundreds of electric buses, possibly up to 1 250. It involves buses of all sizes, ranging from 8 to 24 meters in length. De Lijn confirmed this on Wednesday, following the European Tender Journal publications.
De Lijn’s ambition is to make its fleet – more than 2 000 buses – emission-free by 2035. However, many hundreds of buses will have to be replaced because currently, 13 fully electric buses are running, while sub-contractors like Multiobus are overtaking them in the size of their electric fleet.
Buses of various types
However, a framework agreement has already been signed for 350 e-buses from suppliers Van Hool and VD. The first 60 should be delivered by the end of this year. But there is still a long way to go toward 2035.
According to a press release, De Lijn has now started a purchasing procedure to order up to 1 250 emission-free buses of various types. This includes up to 500 standard 12-meter e-buses, up to 500 articulated 18-meter buses, and 75 10-meter e-buses.
De Lijn will also be looking for so-called e-HOV buses (‘high-quality public transport’), like the ring tram bus: a maximum of 75 18-meter buses and up to 75 24-meter e-buses.
Investing in new technology
The company will look for potential candidates; concrete offers will follow later. How many buses will be purchased depends on the technological evolution during the framework agreement, which is six years.
If, for example, much better performing e-buses come onto the market in the coming years, De Lijn will have the scope to buy fewer e-buses under this framework agreement and more e-buses with newer technology.
Putting into service in phases
The buses will also be put into service in phases depending on the network’s needs. In addition, De Lijn is also looking for up to 25 8-meter buses that can accommodate around 50 passengers. In this way, De Lijn can respond to specific requests from cities and municipalities for smaller buses.
The first of these ‘midi-buses’ will be ordered later this year, with entry into service expected in Bruges in the summer of 2023.
“With this decision, De Lijn is bringing other bus types into the picture in addition to standard buses when greening its bus fleet,” the public transport company says. “This will allow De Lijn to replace the most polluting diesel buses with emission-free buses.”
De Lijn has long been fiercely criticized for its meek e-policy, but now it finally seems to be gearing up. Flemish Mobility Minister, Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), wants to accelerate the greening of public transport. Therefore she has reserved 65 million euros a year as of 2023.