Coronavirus: Belgium called on to support public transport, not airlines

Coronavirus: Belgium called on to support public transport, not airlines
Credit: Belga

Amid talks about state aid for Brussels Airlines, several environmental organisations have called on authorities on Friday to give priority to "massive support" for public transport.

The organisations Inter-Environnement Wallonie, TreinTramBus, Bond Beter Leefmilieu and Greenpeace asked Belgian decision-makers to "grant state aid to sectors that effectively contribute to the achievement of the European Green Deal and international climate objectives."

"Public transport is a solution to the already existing climate crisis. It can only take on that role if we ensure that it has the necessary means to do so," said Peter Thoelen of TreinTramBus. "That will not happen if we now favour polluting alternatives to international trains, such as aviation."

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Public transport is doubly affected by the health crisis, the associations pointed out, and they are concerned about the financial health of the various sustainable mobility services. They, too, face fixed costs and a significant loss of revenue while continuing to provide an essential service to citizens, implying additional costs, according to the organisations.

The National Railway Company of Belgium (SNCB) currently estimates a loss of revenue around €70 million per month and an additional cost of €3.5 million for the purchase of sanitary equipment, according to the statement.

While air travel is often non-essential and reserved for a more affluent segment of the population, according to the organisations, the use of public transport is not merely an option for the most vulnerable sections of the population, "but the only way to go to the doctor, to work or to school," the organisations insisted.

The Brussels Times

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