Sunday, 31 March 2019

Gent, Belgium

The city of Gent lies about 50 kilometres north-west of Brussels, roughly mid-way between the Belgian capital and Brugge (or Bruges, as it is referred to in the English language).  Around a quarter of a million people live in Gent.

Gent's public transport system comprises trams and buses.  They are provided by the  De Lijn, who provide bus and tram services throughout Belgium's Flemish region. 

Three tram lines, numbered 1, 2 and 4, form the backbone of the system.  These operate into Gent's mediaeval heart.

A small number of bus routes operate into the heart of Gent.

All of the buses I saw in the city centre were articulated.

One myth which has been used in the UK is that articulated buses are particularly hazardous to cyclists.  In London, it was one of the reasons given for removing articulated buses from the streets (although no supporting evidence was produced).

Here in Gent, cyclists appear to mix with articulated buses without issue.

These aren't the only bus services operating within or into Gent.  Other services terminate at interchange hubs around the edge of the city centre, with the tram services providing the onward connections into the heart of Gent.  De Lijn's fares allow passengers using single-journey tickets to make interchanges for up to an hour.

The busiest interchange is at Sint-Pieters, Gent's main railway station, a couple of kilometres south of the city centre.

I observed a mix of standard and articulated buses on services at Sint-Pieters.



The bus fleet includes a number of hybrid vehicles.


Fares on the De Lijn network are simple.  At the time of writing, a single journey ticket costs €3.  Ten-journey tickets are available for 16.  Ten journey tickets can be used by more than one passenger, as the ticket can be validated once for each passenger.  As mentioned above, transfers are permitted for up to an hour at no extra fare.

One day tickets allowing unlimited travel are available for €9 if bought on board a bus or tram, or €7 if bought in advance.  Three- and five-day tickets are also available, although these cannot be bought on board the bus or tram.

Gent has a couple of bus services provided by other operators.

At weekends, Dutch operator Connexxion (website only in Dutch) operates across the border from the Netherlands into Gent.  Service 50 reaches Gent four times a day on Saturdays and Sundays.  The service terminates at Gent-Zuid interchange hub.  Connexxion's website is in the Dutch language only, but information in English can be found on the Grenstreinbus website.

At a much more local level, a free bus service operates around the city centre on Mondays to Saturdays, primarily for people with limited mobility.

The service operates from late morning until late evening.

Electric vehicles with capacity for up to 8 passengers are operated.



 Information about the free bus is available on the Visit Gent website.

Gent was built on a network of canals.  A number of operators provide boat tours during the tourist season.

There is also a hop-on, hop-off boat tour which operates at weekends from April until the beginning of November, every 90 minutes.







Finally, horse-and-carriage tours also operate on the streets of Gent.


Images in this post were taken on a brief visit to Gent in August 2018.