STIB to step away from using word ‘black’ in terminology for fare-dodgers
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STIB to step away from using word ‘black’ in terminology for fare-dodgers

STIB will distribute free transport cards during the month of April. Credit: STIB/MIVB

Brussels public transport operator STIB has said it is looking to abandon using the term “black” when it refers to people who ride on public transport without paying.

In Dutch, the word for fare-dodgers is “zwartrijders”, of which the literal translation is “black riders”, or people who ride in the black, which the transport operator recognised can be perceived as discriminatory.

“To be honest, this is the first time we have thought about it in that context, but we are already stepping away from using the term and now we want to try to avoid it in the future,” STIB’s spokesperson An Van hamme told Bruzz. 

“We still need to see how we formulate it,” she added.

In Belgium, national rail company NMBS has said it hasn’t been using the term for a while, whilst De Lijn said it will continue to use it for the time being, as it has not received any negative feedback from passengers about the terminology, according to reports from VRT News. 

The subject became a topic for discussion in Belgium after bus and train companies in Germany’s three largest cities (Berlin, Hamburg and Munich) stopped using the word “Schwarzfahren”, the German equivalent of “zwartrijden”, as more and more people see the term as racist.

“We see that more and more people are bothered by the term ‘black market driving’, so we were looking for an alternative for our choice of words,” according to the Hamburg public transport company HVV, which instead chose for the term “driving without a valid ticket”.

One example of how transport operators are tackling this issue is by changing the message on posters on buses and trams, which now read “Honesty is the best policy” rather than “Black-riding costs €60”.

The Black People’s Foundation in Germany welcomed the transport companies’ decision, saying that the term has a negative connotation for black people.

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