New water bus service DEWATERBUS carries 30,000 enthusiastic travellers in July

Monday 24 07 2017

Aqua Diamond presented to the press


Aqua Diamand presented to the press

The first water bus on the Scheldt was officially named the Aqua Diamond on Friday 30 June in a ceremony that attracted massive press attention. The boat takes its name from the city that it will serve: the diamond city of Antwerp which has been home to the gem industry for more than 570 years. Furthermore 2017 is not only the year of the water bus, it is also the year of diamonds. The honour of naming the first water bus fell to Grietje François, the wife of Jan Briers, governor of the Province of East Flanders. The new service operates under the name of DEWATERBUS, connecting the two neighbouring provinces of Antwerp and East Flanders. Together with the existing ferries DEWATERBUS now offers a denser network of water transport for commuters and other passenger traffic. In combination with the ferry services between Hoboken-Kruibeke and Bazel-Hemiksem and the new crossing between Steenplein and the Left Bank, passengers now have six departure points for travelling over and along the Scheldt.

"We must do everything possible to ensure efficient transport not only in Antwerp but also in the surrounding region," declared Marc Van Peel, chairman of Antwerp Port Authority. "We are confident that in five years' time DEWATERBUS will have won a strong place in the hearts and minds of travellers, encouraging other authorities and private companies to further develop the Scheldt as a passenger highway."

DEWATERBUS festivities

There were festivities for young and old alike during the ceremonial opening weekend of 1 and 2 July, with music, activities and entertainment for some 3500 enthusiastic passengers. 

For Ann from Hemiksem, water transport is a handy alternative for travelling to and from work: "It takes me about 40 minutes by bicycle to get from Hemiksem to the city centre where I work. With DEWATERBUS it's just over 20 minutes. That's a significant time saving, and moreover it's more pleasant to travel by water." On 2 July she and her friends Annick and Nicole took DEWATERBUS to go shopping in Antwerp. "It was a great experience, and I certainly intend to use DEWATERBUS again in future when I want to be in Antwerp."

Eric from Antwerp was also full of praise: "I took a trip just out of curiosity. I don't think I'll go to Hemiksem very often, but I'm looking forward to when the service is extended to the port, where I work. By taking my bicycle on board I'll be able to reach my work in half an hour."

 

During the month of July the service was free to anyone who booked in advance in order to try it out. Almost all the 30,000 places were booked out in just over two weeks. From August onwards anyone who wants can use DEWATERBUS without having to book. It will then be a fully-fledged transport alternative for commuters, day trippers and tourists. A second water bus will enter service in October.  In 2018 various other stops and routes will be added to the service, including the port.

Practical information

The first route runs between Antwerp city centre and Hemiksem, with a stop in Kruibeke, with the journey taking about half an hour one way. The boat has room for 125 passengers, 50 bicycles and two wheelchairs.

 

More information