Belgians spend 11% of their budget on transport
Belgian households spent 11% of their budget on transport in 2019. This is shown in a study on transport expenditure from the Federal Planning Bureau. It is the third-largest expenditure item, after housing (24%) and food (13%).
Brussels households spend much less on average on transport than households in Flanders and Wallonia. However, the urban environment with its extensive public transport may account for a lot of this. Striking: expenditure on the purchase of bicycles increased significantly, at a rate twice that of other types of vehicles (cars, motorbikes).
Less car ownership in Brussels
Brussels households spent an average of 2 494 euros a year on transport costs. In Flanders, this is 4 094 euros, and in Wallonia, even 4 362 euros. On the other hand, Brussels residents spent twice as much on transport services, such as public transport and taxis: 739 euros compared to 361 euros in Flanders, and 209 euros in Wallonia. In Brussels, therefore, only 53% of households have at least one car, compared with around 85% in the other regions.
More expenditure on bicycles
The costs associated with personal vehicles (fuel, maintenance, etc.) account for more than half of Belgians’ expenditure on transport. These costs have increased at current prices between 1995 and 2019 (+102%), an increase that is mainly explained by a variation in prices (fuel in particular).
Vehicle purchase expenditures (primarily new and used cars) are the second-largest component of household transportation expenditures. Nevertheless, the Federal Planning Bureau makes a remarkable observation: expenditure on the purchase of bicycles increased significantly, at a rate twice that of other types of vehicles (cars, motorbikes).
Expenditure on transport services is also on the rise, although it represents a limited share of household expenditure on transport (10% in 2019). This mainly concerns expenditure on rail transport, road transport, and air transport of passengers.
Families with the lowest income spend a relatively larger proportion of their expenditure on transport services and vehicle operating costs. This expenditure can be considered as ‘necessary’ for travel. That share diminishes with income in favor of expenditure on the purchase of vehicles. Indeed, families with higher incomes can afford more luxury, which translates into a car’s purchase.
Compared with other neighboring and EU countries, Belgium has a relatively low share of transport in total household expenditure. This share is particularly low for transport services (1,1% of total expenditure in Belgium in 2019 compared with 2,5% in Germany and France, and 2,3% in the Netherlands).