Commuter defence groups in Belgium have welcomed proposed fare reductions during off-peak hours for Belgium’s railway and bus company, SNCB, but warn that this should not be to the detriment of peak-hour commuters. The proposed reduction is included in a draft 2018-2022 management contract, according to De Standaard daily.
The measure would “leave more space for travelers (…) who have no choice but to travel during busy hours,” Gianni Tabbone, president of the commuter rights group, Navetteurs.be, said on Wednesday.
“It’s a measure that we support and which we have been proposing for a long time now,” Tabbone told Belga news agency. According to the Navetteurs.be president, the measure would encourage public transport users who have flexible timetables to shift their travel times accordingly. “There are increasing possibilities for flexible hours with employers, so that could have a positive effect and leave more space for people who cannot change their timetables,” he said. However, he warned that reducing fares outside peak hours must not be accompanied by increased peak-hour fares.
In the north of the country, another commuter rights group, TreinTramBus (TTB) also stressed that the proposed measure should not punish rush-hour travelers.
TTB said it understood the SNCB’s interest in encouraging commuters to take the train during less busy hours, and that it felt certain reduction formulas were negotiable. However, it was totally against doing this to the detriment to Belgian train users.
“Commuters must not be penalized for travelling during peak hours,” TTB President Stefan Stynen warned. “Many people, especially people with low incomes, often face stricter rules with regard to their working hours. It would be particularly bitter for them to be punished.”