"Venice of the North"? Mechelen wants boat shuttle for shoppers


In the struggle to get shoppers to city centre stores, Mechelen wants to bring shoppers from parking lot to city centre by boat, in a scenic route over the river Dijle. The Belgian city already has one conventional bus shuttle for shoppers, with a second line starting in November.



In 2022, the city hopes to open a huge parking lot in the western part of the city, that should collect visiting shoppers as they exit the motorway, before they reach the inner city centre. The municipality and local shopkeepers' associations are now looking into the possibility of a shuttle service to the city centre by boat. "The route over the Inner Dijle would be a beautiful route, that allows us to add extra experience for the shoppers", alderwoman Greet Geypen told local newspaper GVA. "The boats will only need a few minutes to bring shoppers to the heart of the city, and will do so along a very picturesque part of Mechelen."


More details, like how many stops the boat shuttle would have, have not yet been decided on. However, Geert Milis of a local organisation of retailers and hospitality, hopes the shuttle will continue to the bridge of Mechelen's main shopping street Bruul over the Dijle. With a new shopping cenre (Malinas) opening in the periphery, it is important that shoppers can easily reach the heart of the city as well, Milis states. "And a boat shuttle would be a spectacular way to get shoppers and visitors in", he thinks.


Mechelen already has a free shuttle bus, that brings shoppers from a parking lot in the east of the city to the centre. A similar second route from the south is planned for next month, but the third (from the west) should be the most eye-catching of them all.