BELGIUM The new ‘Hop on/Hop off’ tourist bus service for Brussels has been launched.
The service is the product of a partnership between the Brussels public transport company, STIB, and tourist office VISITBRUSSELS. It aims to provide an effective means of transport for visiting tourist sites and locations in Brussels, with onboard commentary provided on the various sites.
In response to past complaints about the service, an order was put in place, making STIB responsible for tourist bus services and stating it must subcontract them to an agent. STIB worked closely with VISITBRUSSELS to implement the order, who drew up recommendations for improving the quality of the service. Suggestions included setting up routes to allow more tourism points of interest to be reached, along with improving timetabling and bus frequency.
Philippe Close, Elderman for Tourism in Brussels said: “I salute the cooperation between STIB and VISITBRUSSELS which has allowed a new, top-quality tourist service to be instituted, one which is worthy of a great international capital city.”
Brussels ‘Hop on/Hop off’ bus services are provided by Open Tours, under the strict supervision of STIB. Open Tours is the only operator with a licence to arrange tourist trips by bus in Brussels.
Brigitte Grouwels, Minister of Transport for Brussels, said: “I am delighted STIB will be responsible for ‘Hop on/Hop off’ tourist buses in Brussels. STIB has the expertise needed to organise the tourist bus sector and ensure complaints about service and punctuality are a thing of the past.”
Alexander Dochy, MD of Open Tours, said he is happy with the choice made following STIB’s Europe-wide tender exercise. The company uses double-decker City Sightseeing Brussels red buses on a daily basis.
The services started on May 7. It comprises of two circuits – the first covering the Northern part of the City and the second the Southern part. The revamp has resulted in an increase in the frequency and extension of the length of the tours in summer and at weekends, with more visible stops at the Central Station. Tickets are available from VISITBRUSSELS offices, on the bus or from the City Sightseeing Brussels and VISITBRUSSELS websites.