Flanders region plans to spend €93 million of Recovery money on new public transport infrastructure. At a first glance, this looks like a good opportunity; but in reality part of this budget will be used for hybrid buses which will lock public transport into using fossil fuels for many years.
In a nutshell:
- Hybrid buses are still heavily reliant on internal combustion engines and fossil fuels
- Flanders region plans to use Recovery money to finance hybrid buses
While in the neighbouring country, the Netherlands, already more than 66% of the bus fleet is electrified, in Belgium this is only 8.6%. Belgium continues to bet on hybrid buses, which are not a sustainable solution in the long-term, but rather just a shift to a different kind of fossil means of transport.
With €93 million from the EU’s recovery fund, Flanders intends to order 60 electric buses and charging infrastructure. The remaining amount will be used for hybrid buses.
These investments for hybrid buses are not only problematic because they postpone the transition to low-emission transport models, but also because the total amount of EU cash destined to the public transport company De Lijn is too low for a significant modal shift. By 2025 all Flemish city centres should be equipped with emission free buses, and by 2035 in the entire Flemish territory.
This transition cannot be achieved at this investment pace. An initial order of 1 billion euros for 970 electric buses, charging infrastructure and adjustment of bus depots and bus stops has already been delayed and political ambition to speed up is lacking severely. A wise turn in Flemish public transport funding would rather be the purchase of a full electrification abonnement.