To your destination…

There are several reasons to be proud of the Waterbus as a special travel alternative in the Rotterdam-Drechtsteden region. First and foremost this includes all the passengers who have been able to use this unique Public Passenger Transport across South Holland’s water network since the fast ferry services were launched in 1999.

It’s simply fantastic that so many people travel to their destination by water. And, by doing so, they’re not just making a positive contribution to all the problems caused by car mobility. But also to the economic development of all the cities, villages, industrial estates, nature reserves and attractions in the area, not to mention the environmental objectives.

The Waterbus had already been around for several years as a merger between Fast Ferry and Waterbus when we, together with our transport organisation, became properly acquainted with the Province of South Holland and the Drechtsteden’s ambitions, but certainly also those set by the municipality of Rotterdam and the Port Authority, back in 2006.

The art of travelling

My thoughts thereby instantly go back to the book “The Rotterdam, the art of travelling” by Sandra van Berkum, which was also published in 2006. The book, which is about the steamship Rotterdam, particularly emphasises the fact that passengers should feel at home on board when they’re “away from home”. This is the exact same vision we, as a people transporter, have put at the very top of all our ferry services’ priorities, like for DeWaterbus in Antwerp for example. Wanting to do everything possible to bring travellers to their chosen destination in a safe, efficient and enjoyable manner, every single sailing. Where necessary in combination with other forms of mobility.

A whole new fleet

We, as Aqualiner, will be organising the Waterbus transport with effect from 1st January 2022 and we’ll be doing this with an almost entirely new fleet, which will be introduced in phases to replace the current generation of water buses. We have developed an ultimately modern hybrid fast Waterbus ferry for the route between the Drechtsteden and Rotterdam together with Damen Shipyards from Gorinchem. With a great deal more space for bicycles, which can also be charged during the journey, a modern interior with all manner of modern digital gadgets and wide gangways for a fast entry and exit. The 3 new ferries in the Drechtsteden will already be completely electric and emission-free by 2023.

And a slightly different timetable

Improvements are also going to be made where our timetables and destinations are concerned, in order to be able to provide Waterbus travellers with an even better service. For example, the Kinderdijk World Heritage site can be accessed across the water from Rotterdam all year round and a new stop has been added near the Zalmhuis/Rivium. This has also made Capelle aan den IJssel and the area behind it accessible across the water. Partly as a result of the plans for a possible development of Feijenoord City. We’re currently also working on a Rotterdam “Op Zuid” stop in front of Hotel New York. And last but not least, there will be a direct connection between Zwijndrecht and Papendrecht within the Drechtsteden and Sliedrecht will remain connected to the network throughout the entire year.

I would like to say a huge well done to all the crew members, the technical service team and the office organisation. I know all too well what it entails for all the ships to sail from early in the morning until late at night. Punctual, clean, hospitable and, above all, safe. And that’s exactly what passengers can expect from us, but that’s by no means easy to realise every single day.

I’d like to finish off with thanking the clients who’ve made Public Passenger Transport across Water possible; the Province of South Holland and the Drechtsteden region. It’s an incredibly important step to have offered water buses as a transport alternative in addition to the bus, train and tram for all this time. It bears witness to both a long-term vision, but certainly also courage and perseverance.

We’ll be doing everything in our power to use this fantastic Waterbus foundation to develop an even more ambitious and sustainable transport system during the forthcoming period. This undoubtedly won’t be a smooth process from the very first day, but rest assured we’ll make every possible effort to ensure our passengers experience the Art of Travel. On board the Waterbus. To your destination…

Gerbrand Schutten