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Strong 2017 for public transport use in Belgium

19:00 18/01/2018

2017 was a bumper year for public transport in Belgium, with both the Stib and the SNCB reporting strong growth in passenger numbers.

Brussels public transport operator Stib said on Thursday that it carried a record 401 million passengers last year - its biggest growth in user numbers in more than a decade.

The number of journeys made on the Stib network was up 8% year on year. Passenger numbers had suffered in both 2015 and 2016 because of the Brussels "lockdown" and the Zaventem and Maelbeek terror attacks respectively.

Every day, 1.1 million people take a bus, tram or metro in the Belgian capital. "These figures confirm that people are using public transport more and more," said Stib director general Brieu de Meeûs. "Not because they have to, but because it's a good, effective way of getting around."

The SNCB also reported its biggest rise in 10 years, carrying 230 million passengers last year, up 3% on 2016. The Belgian rail operator said half-price weekend tickets and unlimited passes for under-26s had led to a boost in leisure travel and higher train occupancy rates during off-peak hours.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to see the Stib's shiny new silver metros, which are due to enter service next year, you'll need to head to the Brussels Motor Show.

The prototypes are the centrepiece of the We Are Mobility exhibition, unveiled on Thursday by mobility minister Pascal Smet, and which looks at the transport of the future. An order has been placed for 43 of the new trains, to increase capacity on the network.