META is the umbrella organisation of Flemish associations active in heritage of historic trams and buses.
At the end of the 19th century Belgium had the most densely concentrated railway network in the world. These ‘iron roads’, however, were not to be found in every region. Because of this, the Nationale Maatschappij van Buurtspoorwegen (NMVB; English: National Interurban Railway Company) was founded in 1884. By 1955 Flanders had one of the most densely concentrated tram networks in the world. The uptake of car use put the tram under pressure, both in the city and beyond. The bus took over more and more routes. A lot of NMVB material ended up at the breakers yard.
The realisation that something from the past has importance often only occurs once it is too late, when something is in danger of disappearing or has disappeared already. This is especially true of our industrial heritage. The fact that Flanders has a representative collection of around 200 buses and trams is thanks to the efforts of a few enthusiasts. The same is true is of the protected tram depots in Schepdaal and Antwerp-Berchem.
Recently there has been a growing realisation of the importance of consultation and shared vision in this work. This has lead to a consultation platform where a common long-term vision can be developed, knowledge can be shared, and differing opinions can be heard and discussed. In June 2008 the statutes of MobiliteitsErfgoed Tram en Autobus (META; English: Mobility Heritage Tram and Autobus) were signed.