A cut-price bus pass offered to students aged 12 to 25 by the Brussels public transport authority STIB has been a major success, mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt said.
The decision to cut the price of a year-long season ticket for those studying in that age group from €50 to €12 was taken in March and came into force in July. Since then, the STIB has sold 40% more tickets than normal, meaning more young people are using the bus, tram and metro, or at least more of them are paying for their travel.
In addition, the ticket will be extended in February next year to young people who are not in education, who currently have to pay €499 a year.
Even compared to pre-pandemic 2019, growth is impressive at 46%; 24,447 passes were sold in 2019, and 35,812 in 2021.
“The younger you get the habit, the longer you enjoy it, also when it comes to the way you move through the city,” said Van den Brandt.
“We want to give young people a taste of the freedom and convenience that a STIB subscription offers them as early as possible. These figures show that targeted pricing really makes a difference.”
A tariff of €1 a month for unlimited travel seems remarkably generous, but the original proposal was more generous still.
In the Vervoort government’s governing accords, the proposal was to make travel on public transport entirely free for anyone under 25 and anyone over 65. But the accountants pointed out the cost would be astronomical. And the logistics of keeping track of all those claimants would be a nightmare, so the idea was quietly shelved.
Funds are needed, given the investments in public transport being made by the region: more bus capacity, more tram lines, 20% more capacity overall, a new metro line and increased frequency on the metro network, with a train every 90 seconds at peak times instead of three minutes, as is currently the case.