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More lines, vehicles and stops: Stib unveils its New Year’s resolutions

05:57 21/01/2022

Brussels transport company Stib has published a series of pledges for the new year, including more vehicles, an increase in frequencies and a new line on the network.

“In 2022, there will be many new features on the Stib network, all with the same goal: more seats and comfort for the customers,” the transport company said.

Stib is expecting passenger numbers to continue the climb begun in 2021 - which saw 273.8 million passengers, 12% more than in 2020 - as pandemic measures are gradually lifted and people return to work.

“More than ever, public transport is essential to Brussels' mobility. This year, new vehicles, improved frequencies, the continued implementation of the bus plan and digital services will all make Stib an essential player in mobility.”

In the decade preceding the Covid-19 crisis, Stib passenger numbers had been increasing steadily at a rate of around 4.3% a year, reaching 427.5 million in 2019. Those rates plummeted by 42.9% during the height of the pandemic, but began to gradually increase at the end of 2020.

In order to keep pace with the rising number of passengers, Stib has created an ambitious list of projects.

Increase in frequencies

By the end of 2021, bus line 71 - the network's busiest - already had a better turnaround time and improved regularity, with users finding a bus every five minutes. That frequency will further increase during peak hours in 2022.

This year will also see a further increase in frequencies on metro lines 2 and 6. With the commissioning of the new M7 metro trains on lines 1 and 5, more metro cars become available and can be added to lines 2 and 6.

During peak hours, a metro now runs every 2.5 minutes on the shared section between Elisabeth and Simonis and every 5 minutes between Simonis and Roi Baudouin, resulting in 20% extra capacity compared to mid 2021.

All metro lines now have the same frequency of 2.5 minutes on their common section during rush hours. Frequencies will also increase in the evening on the four metro lines from September, with a metro every 10 minutes until the end of the service.

New vehicles on the network

Passengers will also see new vehicles on the network this year, Stib says, namely the Tram New Generation (TNG) and additional M7 metro trains.

“More spacious and comfortable, the TNG is equipped with wide doors and an integral low floor. Everything is designed to facilitate access to the vehicle for people with reduced mobility and to improve the flow and comfort of passengers on board,” Stib explained.

The introduction of new vehicles will gradually increase the capacity of the network. The arrival of the 90 new trams, combined with the replacement of the older ones, will add about 10,000 seats to the total capacity of Stib's tram fleet. The additional vehicles will also make it possible to open up new lines, such as the future line 10 in Neder-Over-Heembeek.

The commissioning of the M7 metro trains will continue in 2022, with 10 new metro trains making their appearance on the network this year.

The conversion of the bus fleet will likewise continue, with plans to be drafted for the purchase of new electric buses, converting charging stations at the end points of the next lines to electricity and the further development of the Marly depot, where the new vehicles will be housed.

New lines

At the end of 2021, a new section of tram line 9 was put into service. From now on, line 9 connects Simonis with the Heysel area, via the centre of Jette, the Place du Centenaire, the UZ Brussel and the Cité Modèle.

Work on the new tram line 10 will begin in the autumn of 2022, and STIB says that by the end of 2024, the new line will connect the Military Hospital in Neder-Over-Heembeek with Rogier, serving densely populated neighbourhoods along the way.

The implementation of the bus plan ends in 2022 with a new line 73 (between Midi station and Coovi in Anderlecht), extensions and restructuring of existing lines, along with increased peak hours on several routes.

“All these novelties of the last phase of the bus plan will make it possible to offer 10% more seats on the bus network in 2022,” Stib says. “Since its introduction in 2018, the bus network will have 30% more seats.”

Additional works

Stib also has plans to modernise metro stations and continue work on the future metro line 3.

It plans to finish testing the MoveBrussels app which has been under development since autumn of 2020, making it available to users beginning in the autumn of 2022.

With a digital ticket, travellers will be able to use their smartphone to buy and validate tickets directly, as Flemish users can do on De Lijn.

"Brussels has made the development of its public transport a real political priority," said the region's mobility minister, Elke Van den Brandt. “In 2022 alone, €1.09 billion, or 17% of the region's total budget, will be invested in improving the services offered by Stib.

"This will be seen in the medium term with the new tramway and metro lines being developed, and it will also be seen this year when passengers benefit from even better frequencies, more vehicles, renovated stations and stops, additional lines, a MaaS (Mobility as a Service) app, as well as new fares for all young Brussels residents."

Written by Helen Lyons


Frank Lee

The "capital of Europe" has still a long way to go and a lot of work to make its public transportation shine. In Milan, there is a metro train entering the station every 90 seconds during peak hours on line M1. Most buses there are electric. Milan is not a country's capital, but it has one great mayor, not a myriad of different power levels and decision-makers like here...

Jan 21, 2022 15:27