No Hassle Transit? Try Hasselt
Publisher: The Tyee
Date Written: 09/07/2007
Year Published: 2007
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20495
A consideration of Belgium's transit infrastructure and fare-free system implementation as a model for BC to draw upon.
On January 1, 1991, the Flemish Authority brought together three public transport companies and joined them into one autonomously operating state company. This company's raison d'etre is to provide transport for the whole of Flanders. That was the beginning of the Flemish Transport Company, since then generally known under the name "De Lijn." This structure allows them to buy buses more cheaply and they can even share buses among the different city and regional systems, whenever needed.
By contrast, BC Transit doesn't seem to purchase enough buses to offer similar benefits and they don't operate any systems outside Victoria any longer so sharing isn't possible. BC Transit's main role for smaller transit systems in B.C. seems to be providing pre-paid media (tickets and passes), which obviously isn't needed for fare-free systems like Hasselt.
Jean Vandeputte, the chief engineer-director for the City of Hasselt, shared by e-mail these thoughts about converting existing transit systems in B.C. to fare-free systems:
"To be successful, I think that the public transport system must not be crowded at the start. Our project was originally organized to attract more passengers and to have less cars in the city centre. The buses also need separate lanes, because travelling by bus has to be faster than by car, so the infrastructure of intersections and streets has to be adapted. The buses have to be modern, clean ... you need to have more bus stops. And the shelters must be attractive."