National rail company SNCB has been urged to take into account the changing mobility needs of its customers and the rise in teleworking when it comes to its new pricing policy.
The Central Economic Council (CCE) and the National Labour Council (CNT) recently issued their advice on the conditions for SNCB's future flexible season tickets, which should be available in 2022 and should apply a tariff policy that allows people to choose the most appropriate fare for them.
"One of the basic principles on which the tariff policy of the SNCB should be based is that it must be sufficiently dynamic in order to be able to respond to changing mobility needs resulting from societal evolutions (e.g. the rise of part-time work, increased telecommuting and more cycling)," the report stated.
From next year, a formula of flexible train passes for a few days a week, called 'Flex Abonnement', will become available, as a response to the alternation between working from home and in the office, which the SNCB hopes will make travelling by train more attractive.
A trial period of this type of subscription was launched in May this year, in which around 7,000 employees took part. Based on the results of this period, the system is expected to be rolled out for private individuals as well as for companies and institutions.
The current Flex Subscription allows customers to choose to travel to and from a fixed workplace for either 80 or 120 days within a 12-month period, or six or 10 days per month, however, it is currently only available on smartphones.
Both councils argued that this system should not exclude employees who do not have a smartphone and that it should also be extended to the regular flexible season tickets.
They added that reimbursement arrangements should be discussed in interprofessional social consultation.
With a view to promoting multimodality, the councils also emphasised that flexible season tickets should be supplemented by a parking supplement, a supplement for travel by regional public transport, a bicycle supplement, etc, "taking into account the reality of the working world".
"The creation of an integrated public transport system does not only require the integration of tickets and tariffs of the public transport, but also the integration of the public transport offer," they added.
They also urged the SNCB to anticipate the steady increase in bicycle use and welcomed the intention of the Federal Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet to integrate a train-bicycle strategy in the next SNCB contract and advised SNCB to enter into partnerships with other partners to increase the supply of shared bicycles at stations.