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The Rules of Mobility: a Q&A with STIB

15:42 23/05/2013

Londoners complaining about bus irregularity, Parisians moaning about tramps in metro stations… is there a European city where people are totally pleased with the public transport system? If so, Brussels isn’t one of them – punctuality, route changes and general public transport etiquette are regular causes for concern. We submitted a few recurrent questions from our Q&A section to An Van Hamme, STIB’s communications manager.

I have noticed that it is common for people to stand on both sides of the escalator here in Brussels, making it at best diffcult for anyone in a hurry to overtake them. Is this normal, or are we meant to 'stand on the left' unlike in London where it's on the right?

Normally, people should stand on the right. At least, that’s the polite thing to do… In that way, people who are in a hurry can bypass the others. Since this message seems to be something we should obviously repeat, we regularly do so via audio messages in the metro stations.

Can I top up my Mobib from home?

Yes you can, via the online BOOTIK platform - at least for your subscription. For all other tickets, you can reload your MOBIB at one of the 340 GO automatic vending machines in metro stations or at the more important tram or bus stops, at one of the 19 KIOSKs, 6 BOOTIKs or even in a shop (often a library or supermarket).

How, why and by whom are the bus and tram lines designed/redesigned? For example, why was the 81 tramline, which used to take me from Bailli area directly to the centre of town, redirected to Anderlecht, leaving me needing to change lines to go into town now? 

STIB/MIVB has reformed its tram network completely over the past decade.  The purpose of these changes was to create a more robust network with regards to punctuality of service and to operate the new fleet of modern low-floor, high-capacity vehicles on the main parts of the network. This is why only two lines are in operation today across the tram tunnel across the city centre, between Gare du Nord/Noordstation and Gare du Midi/Zuidstation, namely tram lines 3 and 4.  Those routes operate a high-frequency service, similar to the metro network. As a consequence, most routes that used to run across the tunnel have been reshuffled and offer new connection between neighbourhoods, while keeping a possibility to connect easily to routes 3 and 4.

A single STIB ticket is valid for an hour, during which you can get a correspondence into any other STIB vehicle. What if your first journey is severely delayed, spilling over the allotted hour – do you have to buy another ticket?

This really very rarely happens. If for example you take the tram at 3 pm, you can transit until 3h59. If you than take the bus, and this ride takes for example 20 minutes, you’ve been travelling for 1h19 for the cost of a single journey.

I’ve only just realised that Brussels has a night bus network – great news! Are Noctis journeys included in the daily/monthly/annual travelcard like in London?

The Noctis night bus network is indeed great news. All STIB tickets are valid on the Noctis network, which runs on Friday and Saturday nights from midnight until 3am.

Why does Uccle have no metro?

The Brussels metro exists since 1976 in the centre of Brussels, and was gradually extended in relation with the need for transport. Experts at the time the Brussels metro was built, calculated that a tram was a vehicle with a capacity of 16,000 passengers per hour. In comparison, a tube train accounts for 40,000 to 50,000 places per hour. In function of the need for public transport, there’s decided to use buses when the capacity needed is not that big, followed by tram and then metro. Works to create metro lines and stations are also much more expensive than tram and certainly than buses, which don’t need a lot of infrastructure. In the course of time, more and more people moved to Brussels and the city also welcomes many thousands commuters every day. That’s why the metro network will be extended to the north as from 2018, via Schaerbeek and Evere. The new management contract with the Brussels Capital Region foresees a study of the extension of the premetro network (underground tram) of the north south axis between Place Albert and Uccle.

Buskers (guitarists, accordion players etc) – are they allowed/tolerated on the STIB network? I have them every day without fail…

Buskers are allowed on the STIB network, but only in well-defined zones in certain metro stations (there are 100 spots where they can play music, that are indicated with a music clef). However, they must have an authorisation of STIB. To obtain this authorisation, they should fill out a form that they can obtain at one of the KIOSK, and then take part in an audition in front of a jury.

Written by PM Doutreligne