Free Online Library: "Before
The new city council of 1995 realised that public transport was a major problem. There were only eight city buses and two lines in Hasselt before 1 July 1997, which covered about 500,000 km a year and only transported 360,000 passengers in 1996. After the renovation of the ring road around the city, turning it into a pedestrian-friendly and tree-clad 'Groene Boulevard', the city council presented an ambitious project to transport company De Lijn. With the words 'Hasselt zal nooit meer hetzelfde zijn' ('Hasselt will never be the same'), the former mayor and later minister Steve Stevaert launched free buses on 1 July 1997.
The project was an instant success. Until 30 June 1997, there was an average of 1,000 bus passengers a day in Hasselt. Today, the average is 12,600 passengers a day. There are now 46 city buses on nine lines, including a boulevard shuttle and a city centre shuttle. Two nightlines run at night. Altogether, these city buses cover 2,258,638 km in a year. All this benefits mobility in Hasselt. However, there is also a social benefit. Visits to hospitals have increased significantly. Free public transport is here to stay in Hasselt. "