The Brussels public transport authority Stib has been given a record score of 7.3/10 by the travelling public, the third year in a row it has achieved a positive score in the annual ‘satisfaction barometer’.
The system won points for timekeeping, and for the comfort of the vehicles on metro, tram and bus routes. Cleanliness was also praised – a factor certainly linked to the 2020 coronavirus epidemic.
The overall score was slightly up on the score for 2019 of 7.1/10, but one difference was the number of higher scores was significantly higher than last year. Four out of five people polled gave a score of seven or more.
“The STIB is on the right track,” CEO Brieuc de Meeûs said. “We have seen an increase in satisfaction with our service for ten years now. We are proud of that. But at the same time we must be humble. A high rating means that the bar is also higher.”
But at the same time as customers were more satisfied, the number of customers was severely affected by the pandemic. During the first lockdown, passenger numbers fell by 90%. Since October, the rate of passenger occupancy on the metro has settled at 55% of pre-corona figures, while buses and trams are at 60%.
“It’ll be that way for some time yet,” de Meeûs said. The authority expects figures to go back to normal only in the autumn. Much will continue to depend on the extent of vaccination in the city, and the number of infections.
Many people are reluctant to use public transport because of the lack of distancing, not only at peak times but also on the busiest sections of a bus or tram route.
In addition, numbers will also only to back to pre-corona levels when people return en masse to work – if that ever happens.
The largest jump in appreciation, however, was reserved for customer service, including information provided via social media and tailor-made apps. Customer scores in that area jumped from 6.6 to 7.2.
“Our constant accessibility makes the difference,” said de Meeûs. “In addition, we communicate about everything. We sometimes have to deliver less pleasant messages, but we are not penalised for that.”