Vias confirms: Belgians ditch public transport
According to the latest mobility barometer from traffic safety institute Vias, the coronavirus health crisis has changed Belgians’ mobility habits. Public transport numbers are down to a third of what they were before lockdown while cycling got a boom with 63% more bikes in Brussels at peak hours, and +467% during the weekend.
“People took advantage of the deserted roads to get back on their bicycles. And some have realized that it’s clearly an easy, and sometimes faster, way of getting to work. Perhaps not all, but one thing is certain: the lockdown has definitely changed part of the citizens’ transport habits,” declares Benoît Godard, spokesperson for Vias.
Public transport plummet
With social distancing rules and fear of contagion, people are abandoning public transport. Where 10,39% of all trips in Belgium were done on trains, trams, buses, or metros before March 18, that share is now only at 3,86%.
“With the coronavirus arrived the fear of ending up in a confined place with others. That fear is still very much present today. Commuters are aware of it,” notes Julien Leblud, author of the study for Vias.
Those commuters who are afraid of taking public transport haven’t all decided to drive their cars. “Before lockdown, 59,13% of all trips were done by car. They are at 56,98% now. There is a drop, but it’s not significant,” analyses Mr. Leblud. While the number of trips done by car stayed pretty much level, cycling got a boost.
Today, nearly 8 in 100 km driven are done on a bike. Vias notes a 202% increase in cycling compared to before lockdown. “In Brussels, the number of cyclists has increased by 63% at peak hours, and by 467% during the weekend. Brussels citizens have now integrated cycling in their leisure,” explains Benoît Godart.
Train trips halved in Wallonia
In Wallonia, the number of trips on rail has halved during the lockdown. However, that is not especially due to the fear of contagion. “This drop can be explained by the fact that Walloons travel long distances to come to work in Brussels.
They usually take the train. But during the lockdown, many started to telework and they continue to do so today,” develops Vias’ spokesperson. To encourage that behavior, Brussels authorities are working on a plan to promote teleworking.