Brussels says public transport isn't causing infection to spread

Brussels says public transport isn't causing infection to spread
Strike actions could affect the STIB network. Credit: Belga

Public transport is not causing the coronavirus to spread through the Brussels-Capital Region, according to a study referred to by the cabinet of Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt.

Passengers on buses, metros, trams and trains are safe, as long as the vehicles are properly cleaned and ventilated, and there is an obligation to wear a face mask, according to a study by the International Association for Public Transport (UITP).

A negligible fraction of coronavirus infections occurs on buses or metros, according to the study. In France, reportedly only 1.2% of the infections could be linked to public transport, and in Germany, barely 0.2% of the country's cases lead back to bus, tram, metro or train.

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Since Brussels public transport company STIB has started operating at full capacity again, it has reported a gradual increase in the occupancy rate of its vehicles, with some lines as packed as normal. Especially in the area of schools, STIB sees a peak of passengers in the morning.

Van den Brandt's cabinet emphasised that STIB perfectly complies with these sanitary regulations. Additionally, the obligation to wear a face mask on public transport has been in force in Belgium since before the summer. "Still, we want to go to extremes to reduce the risks even further," Van den Brandt's cabinet told Bruzz.

However, Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst told VRT News that he is not comfortable with what he called "overcrowded public transport vehicles," adding that he hopes the mandatory teleworking rules will keep people off metros, trams and buses.

"If not, perhaps we should consider only allowing passengers in seats. Then, if all seats are taken, a vehicle is just full," Van Ranst said.

On Tuesday evening, the Mobility Ministers will meet to discuss if possible additional efforts to protect passengers can be made.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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