Public transport companies in Belgium are all taking different measures to prevent the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). Here’s a roundup of which company is doing what.
Buses, trams and metros
Flemish bus company De Lijn announced that it would frequently air out its buses and trams, for example by opening roof windows. Drivers will also spontaneously open the back door of the buses, so travellers do not have to press any buttons.
The company will also restrict its service, and reduce its bus offer by 14%, and its tram offer by 10% from Wednesday 18 March. However, the company will ensure that the lines serving hospitals will still be frequently operated.
One reason why De Lijn is reducing its offer is that they are noticing that a growing number of bus drivers is calling in sick. In order to avoid “ad-hoc cancellations,” the company is adapting service “in a structured way.” You can find the new timetables here.
Brussels public transport company STIB will continue to operate, but tickets can no longer be purchased on board, and payments in the stations will no longer be possible with cash money. The company has also suspended ticket checks, to limit contact between its personnel and travellers as much as possible.
STIB also said it was “expecting fewer travellers on public transport, so that everyone can keep their distance.” Like De Lijn, STIB also no longer requires people to board their buses through the front doors.
Walloon bus company TEC is also no longer selling tickets on board, though the e-shop, SELF vending machines, ESPACES TEC and POINTS TEC are still available for ticket purchasing. The bus company is also selling MOBIB cards via its e-shop. These measures are in place until 18 April.
Belgian railway company SNCB has cancelled more than 90 rush hour trains (P trains) to and from Brussels. In addition, trains that do run are being cleaned every day with added attention to areas often touched by passengers such as tablets and door handles.
Train stations are also being cleaned on a frequent basis, also focussing on frequently touched surfaces like the sides of escalators. Trains can only depart if enough water and soap are present on board, staff is asked to stay far away from passengers, and only electronic payments are allowed.
While Brussels Airport Zaventem and Charleroi Airport remain open, several airlines have cancelled all their flights (including Air Arabia, Delta, El Al and Royal Air Maroc). The government’s measures regarding services, shops, bars and restaurants will also impact the opening hours of various businesses within the airport.
Regardless, cargo flights will continue as planned and “necessary travels must remain possible,” said Brussels Airport, which has a page that is regularly updated regarding the coronavirus. Both airports are in constant contact with the SPF Public Health and reiterate the measures recommended by the SPF.
In Brussels, Billy Bike is offering its users their bicycles 15 minutes a day free of charge until 3 April, so the people of Brussels can “get around without taking public transport or the car.” It also recommends that people wear gloves, and wash their hands as regularly as possible.
Blue Bike has asked its users to respect the government’s hygiene measures as much as possible.
Maïthé Chini and Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times