Although the horse-drawn carriages used for sightseeing in downtown Brussels started being phased out in March of this year, they are set to come back in 2024, as reported by Belgian news outlet RTBF. But this time, they will be 100% electrically powered.
After ten years of operation, the service offered by Thibault Danthine decided to stop activities for several reasons. “Things were becoming increasingly complicated logistically,” he told RTBF. “I was going to have to move the stables anyway, and finding a stable that could accommodate four horses, manure, etc. in the middle of the city is very complicated.” In good years, the carriages transported an average of 15,000 tourists per season.
This will differentiate Brussels from other European cities.Fabian Maingain, alderman for Economic Affairs in Brussels
“It’s not easy either, from a human resources point of view, to find people who know how to lead a horse around town and speak two or three languages,” Danthine said. “Ethically speaking, things are changing.”
In August of 2022, Brussels MP Victoria Austraet called for a ban on the carriages during hot weather, as reported by Belgian news outlet Sudinfo. “I don’t understand, the horses were working when it was 29℃,” Austraet said at the time. “In other years, the managers had taken the initiative not to take the horses out. I did not expect to see them at all.” According to the Brussels Times, Austraet was elected in 2019 as the first animal rights deputy in a Belgian regional parliament, originally representing the DierAnimal party. She has since moved to an independent party.
The horse-drawn carriages will return in 2024, this time with a 100% electrically powered model. The aim is to keep the charm of the tour while moving with the times. Fabian Maingain, alderman for Economic Affairs in Brussels, said that this is the desire to offer Brussels something innovative and more in line with the needs of the twenty first century.
“This will enable Brussels to be in an offer that is respectful of the environment, respectful of the heritage setting of our city center,” said Maingain. “At the same time to have a certain modernity, this will differentiate Brussels from other European cities.”
The operator will remain Thibault Danthine given that he was the winner of the tender organized by the city. He has given himself until 2024 to implement the new model.