Electrification of Brussels bus fleet not on schedule

Brussels public transport company MIVB/STIB is behind schedule for the electrification of its bus fleet. So reports the newspaper La Capital. However, that time is short may be clear because, in 2025, a series of buses of MIVB/STIB will no longer meet the standards of the low-emission zone (LEZ).

Delays in construction or transformation of depots

Among other things, there would be delays in the application for planning permission for the temporary bus depot on the Schaerbeek-Formation site and delays in phase two of the development of the Marly depot, which is essential for accelerating the electrification of the bus fleet.

MIVB/STIB ordered 70 EvoBus-branded articulated e-buses from Daimler Truck at the end of March. Delivery of those new vehicles is scheduled for 2024. Today, 37 all-electric buses are already driving through the streets of Brussels. So, the order will make more than 100. In September, the public transport company will order another 20 standard e-buses.

By 2035, the entire MIVB/STIB network should move away from other fuels, and the current hybrid and electric buses will be replaced as of 2033. However, to run all these e-buses, the depots must also be adapted; that is where the problem lies.

Brussels Mobility Minister remains optimistic

Plans for this have been ready since mid-2022, but MIVB/STIB, for instance, does not yet have the land needed to build a temporary depot on the Schaerbeek-Formation site, an essential link in the bus fleet electrification program.

This temporary depot will accommodate thermal buses while the existing depots are converted to electric drives – the e-buses must remain connected to allow optimal charging of batteries.

Nevertheless, Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) remains optimistic. To house and maintain the new e-buses, MIVB/STIB will also build a new depot at the future Tyras, next to the existing Marly site, because the existing bus depots are already at their maximum capacity.

The building permit for this depot was obtained earlier this year, and the environmental license was issued in mid-March. According to Van den Brandt, MIVB/STIB will make every effort to make up for the delay in obtaining permits so that the buses can be accommodated there.

If MIVB/STIB – the company is also testing hydrogen buses, by the way – fails to complete these projects on time, it will have to cough up a hefty fine.

According to Van den Brandt, each violation will result in a fine of 350 euros per vehicle, with a maximum of four fines per vehicle per year. As 52 buses are involved, the financial cost of a delay would be around 73 000 euros.


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