Belgium must improve its public transport if we are to become less reliant on cars

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
Belgium must improve its public transport if we are to become less reliant on cars
© Belga

8.15AM on a weekday. I just dropped my daughter at school, and I start heading my way towards the train station. How? Well, I try to be as environmentally friendly as possible so, yes, with my secondhand bike.

I arrive to the station’s parking, I get down of the bike, lock it, and run towards the platform. I run because I know there’s a train at 8.30, and I need to take that one. Ahhh… my beloved platform 11. The one where practically all the trains going to Mechelen pass by.

It’s now 8.29 and I finally get to breathe. I repeat myself over and over: “it will definitely have a delay, but I’ll make it to the 9.01 bus in Mechelen for sure, it’s only 15 minutes of a journey, so there’s plenty of room”. Time flies and, well, the train never arrives, till it does 6 minutes later.

It departs at 8.38 and one thinks: “still 8 minutes of budget left, we’ll make it”. After all, could a train get more delay than the actual journey? Well, Belgium works in mysterious ways. And so, yes, yes, a train could definitely get more delay than the actual journey. It’s 8.54 and, theoretically, I should have arrived to Mechelen station 2 minutes ago counting with the delay, and 9 minutes ago if there was no delay. But are we there yet? Of course not. The train just stopped about 200 meters before the station. The reason? Who knows? At this point of time, the frustration I start to experience grows exponentially. The train finally arrives at the station at 08.59. And I better run for my life because it’s either that or waiting another 20 minutes for the following bus.

Once on the bus, I start blaming SNCB till a great extent. Can’t they get a single train on time? Why are they always late? At some point I started to think about turning my anger into something profitable. So I promised myself to claim money back from every single delay. But, of course, SNCB already thought about this, and the form you have to fill in is the Demon itself. Also, getting the exact data you need to prove that you were late more than 15 minutes is actually what dictionaries define as torture. Not to mention that you can only do this every 6 months. So, the balance effort-profits absolutely bends towards worthlessness.

And it’s not about the delay in itself, it’s about the frequency. If this would happen once every 10 journeys, I wouldn’t care. The problem is that this has been happening for 2 years already, on an average of 8 times out of 10 journeys. And this is a situation my brains cannot take anymore.

But one cannot overcome this thinking and keeps on blaming useless political parties and big companies, who do absolutely nothing to prevent from climate change and not-so-far-away-anymore catastrophe. “Use the public transport, they say”. “Don’t buy a car, it’s so polluting”. Well, is it? Because I started to think that the fumes that get out of my head when this happens every single day I go to work, start to emit more CO2 than the car I would use to go to work and back.

Do you want me to use public transportation? Don’t make it a torturing experience. 6 months more of this, and I will see myself buying a car, stop using public transportation, and be egoistic about my mental health, not caring at all about the planet. And it will all be thanks to you, SNCB.

“Be environmentally friendly”, they say. For crying out loud.

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