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Horse-drawn carriage rides in central Brussels set to end next year
Horse-drawn carriages in Brussels city centre could be replaced by electric carriages if a proposal from alderman for economic affairs Fabian Maingain (Défi) is approved.
“We had been looking for an alternative to horse-drawn carriages for some time,” Maingain told La Dernière Heure.
“The owner of the animals takes exemplary care of them, but there has been social debate about this for some time.”
Every year, some 15,000 tourists take a carriage ride through Brussels city centre.
Electric carriages are already driving around in other European cities, but Brussels is the first capital to possibly make the switch.
Operator Thibault Danthine wants to stop offering the horse-drawn service regardless.
“Things were becoming increasingly complicated logistically,” Danthine explained.
"I was going to have to move the stables anyway, and finding a stable that could accommodate four horses, manure and so on in the middle of the town centre is very complicated.
"It's not easy either, from a human resources point of view, to find people who know how to ride a horse in the city and speak two or three languages. And, ethically, things are changing."
A public tender has already been launched, with the current operator coming out on top.
The three new carriages would look almost completely the same, but without the horse and coachman.
“As a result, you get a kind of Harry Potter feeling,” Maingain said, referring to how the carriages would seem to be driven by magic.
Exactly what the revamped tourist attraction would look like and whether the cost of a ride will increase will become clear after the carriages are actually built.
The intention is for them to start operating from 2024.
“This will allow Brussels to offer something that is respectful of the environment, respectful of the heritage setting of our city centre, but at the same time to have a certain modernity, this will differentiate Brussels from other European cities,” said Maingain.