There are no fixed stops and you can get on and off anywhere on the route. All you have to do is give the driver a signal so that he can safely stop to let you board. An easy means of transport, but it will disappear from the streets. The electric vans were initially intended to support the circulation plan. The free electric buses that have strolled through the city center for years will make their last rounds on August 31.
emptiest bus in the world
Many Ghent residents considered the walking bus a money-wasting project of the city of Ghent. The concept came about during the turbulent period for the circulation plan from 2017. When it was demanded that Ghent provide alternatives for people with walking difficulties and unable to cycle. Nice idea in itself, but you couldn't get on with a wheelchair. The 'snail vans' often drove empty through the center of Ghent. According to official counts, about 80.000 people use the free walking buses every year. That's about 250 a day. The buses do not run on Sundays. The city council pays 480.000 euros per year to the private company Keolis to have three vans drive around. This means that each stepper costs the city coffers 6 euros.
It is not completely unexpected, because it has never been a success. The survival of the vans had been on the table for some time. Now that the three-year contract with Keolis expires, the city has decided not to renew it.
In the meantime, the city council is focusing on the bicycle taxi as a good alternative. The bicycle taxis are intended to take seniors and people who have difficulty walking to their destination. Three Trivelo bicycle taxis have been driving around in the Sluizeken-Tolhuis-Ham district since April, but the intention is that they will serve the entire city center.
Until the end of September, the bicycle taxis will also drive out in the center and a large part outside it. In total there are three trio bikes and a tandem. They have their base in the city center and pick up people within a 4 kilometer radius. Depending on availability, they will also be in the car-free area, where they will offer their services without reservation. A single ride costs 1,5 euros, for a ride there and back you pay 3 euros, a pleasure ride of an hour is 5 euros.
Read also: Ghent is the cycling Mecca of Flanders