- The first horse-drawn omnibuses (hippomobile), popularly known as "dung engines," linked the Allée Verte with the place Royale in 1835. A metropolitan network was largely completed before 1840. The London-based Belgian Street Railways & Omnibus Co. Ltd. (known as Société Vaucamps) secured a 40-year concession to operate seven routes in 1869. In that year, the first tramway on rails (called an "American railway") began with six horse-drawn cars linking porte de Namur with the Bois de la Cambre via avenue Louise operated by S.A. Les Tramways bruxellois. The Brazilian Company operated routes along the rue de la Loi and the inner ring road. These three companies were merged in the mid-1870s. The high cost of horses and the problems encountered by steam and horse power in climbing steep streets led to a demand for electric trams, which began running on 6 May 1894 with service from the city to place Stéphanie. Over the next decade most lines were electrified. The last horse-drawn tram ran on the Bourse-Ixelles line in 1914. An electric generating plant was inaugurated to great fanfare on 28 June 1903.The first motor buses began operating in 1907 between the Bourse and Ixelles. The Société des Tramcars Nord-Midi ran buses along rue Neuve. In 1926, a new company, Les Autobus bruxellois, took over bus operations.The distinctive yellow color of the tramcars dates from the end of 1913 when directors of the Tramways bruxellois company ordered its use, with painting beginning in December.In 1925, Société générale des Chemins de Fer économiques, which ran "chocolate trams" (from the color of the cars) merged its 15 lines with Tramways bruxellois, long the largest operator. The latter's fleet numbered 101 cars by 1939 and improvements in speed and service were ongoing. At the end of 1945, the concession granted Tramways bruxellois expired and a management committee for urban transport in the agglomeration of Brussels ran the transport network on a provisional basis until the Société des Transports intercommunaux de Bruxelles (STIB) was set up as a mixed public-private company. It began operations in 1954. The fleet was overhauled for the World's Fair of 1958. In 1978, the state repurchased shares held by private investors. By ordinances of 1990, the STIB/MIVB (Maatschappij voor het Intercommu-naal Vervoer te Brussel) operates public transport services in the Brussels Capital Region. Since 1994, 2,000 trams have been in service.From 1939 to 1964 a single trolley bus route operated on which 24 trolleybuses ran between Forest and Mechelen via the Léopold district station.In addition, the Société des Chemins de Fer Vicinaux ran a network of light railways (vicinaux) in the metropolitan area. The last vicinal ran in 1978.Tram drivers in Brussels have long been familiarly known as wattmen.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.