Plans to make Brussels’ largest public transport network free for a portion of its users have sparked concerned against lawmakers, who grilled the government on how the measure would be financed.
Brussels mobility minister faced questions from lawmakers on Tuesday about a measure which would grant commuters under 25 and over 65 free access to STIB’s public transport network.
Opposition members raised concerns ranging from the utility of the measure to how it would be financed, with one wondering whether the measure responded to a real demand from residents in Brussels.
“Are Brussels residents really asking for free public transport?” Cieltje Van Achter, MP for the Nieuw Vlaamse Alliantie, said, according to Bruzz, adding that what Brussels needed was an “efficient, high-quality public transport network” capable of offering a real alternative to drivers.
“This will mean an extra cost for STIB” MP David Weytsman, member of the French-speaking Mouvement Reformateur, said. “How are you going to compensate for this, by introducing higher rates for other users?”
While no official figures have been released, previous estimations put the cost of the measure at around €12 million for the local budget.
But a spokesperson for mobility minister on Tuesday told Bruzz that the measure could end up costing €20 million a year, citing estimations by STIB.
The initiative, which the government said it would seek to introduce by summer 2020, is still in the negotiating an planning stages, mobility minister Elke Van den Brandt said.
“It is still early into the legislature, but [the measure] is in the coalition agreement, so we will implement it,” she said.
The Brussels Times