Brigitte Grouwels, Minister of Transport for Brussels and minister responsible for the STIB along with Philippe Close, Elderman for Tourism in the City of Brussels, gave a presentation on the new “Hop on/Hop off” tourist bus service for Brussels, the product of close and constructive cooperation between the Brussels public transport company, STIB and VISITBRUSSELS.
The STIB, which is officially responsible for arranging and reorganising tourist buses in Brussels, has the job of securing quality of service for users. In order better to meet tourists’ requirements, the STIB was able to call on the expertise of the Tourist Office, VISITBRUSSELS.
For tourists, “Hop on/Hop off” buses provide an especially pleasant and effective means of transport for visiting the numerous tourist sites and locations in Brussels in a short time. To improve the reputation of tourist buses and respond to past complaints about this service, the Brussels Capital Region decided to use an Order to regulate the carrying of tourists on “Hop on/Hop off” buses.
This Order specifies that STIB is to be responsible for tourist bus services and must subcontract them to an agent. STIB cooperated closely with VISTBRUSSELS to implement the Order, taking account of recommendations from tourism experts in Brussels.
VISITBRUSSELS drew up recommendations for improving the quality of the service, especially in terms of setting up routes allowing more tourism points of interest to be reached, timetabling and bus frequency. In addition, all the commentary and explanations to be given during the trip were drafted by VISITBRUSSELS experts so they would reflect ongoing cultural developments and historical reality.
Philippe Close, Elderman for Tourism in the City of Brussels said; “I salute the excellent cooperation between the STIB and VISITBRUSSELS that has allowed a new, coherent, top-quality tourist service to be instituted, one that is worthy of a great international capital city”.
Brussels “Hop on/Hop off “bus services are to be provided by the company, Open Tours, under the strict supervision of the STIB. Open Tours is the only company with a licence to arrange tourist trips by bus in the Brussels Capital Region. The STIB has the task of ensuring that the tourist bus market is met and that quality of service for tourists is guaranteed at all times. It does this in close cooperation with Open Tours.
“I am delighted that, from now on, the STIB will be responsible for “Hop on/Hop off” tourist buses in Brussels. The STIB has the expertise needed to organise the tourist bus sector in such a way as to ensure that complaints about service and punctuality will from now on be a thing of the past. I hope that this collaboration will allow us further to consolidate our role as an international city”, explains Brigitte Grouwels, Minister of Transport for Brussels.
Practical information on the tourist buses
Alexander Dochy, Managing Director of Open Tours, is both honoured by and happy with the choice made following the STIB’s Europe-wide tender exercise. Based on its 10 years’ experience, his company will every day be taking tourists to see the capital’s major attractions using Double-decker City Sightseeing Brussels red buses and they will be doing so in close collaboration with both the STIB and VISITBRUSSELS.
The revamped, STIB-controlled “Hop on/Hop off “bus services will come into service on Monday 7 May 2012. At present, the service is to comprise two large circuits (the first covering the Northern part of the City and the second the Southern part). These can both be accessed by purchasing a single ticket. The service also takes in the famous Art Nouveau facades in Brussels (Ixelles, Bois de la Cambre and the Basilique de Koekelberg – the Koekelberg Basilica).
The revamp also takes in an increase in the frequency and extension of the length of the tours in summer and at weekends. The tourist buses will now have more visible stops at the Central Station. Tickets (valid for 24 or 48 hours) are available from VISITBRUSSELS offices, on the bus or from the City Sightseeing Brussels and VISITBRUSSELS websites (www.citysightseeingbrussel.be) and (www.visitbrussels.be).