According to a survey by the Smart Mobility Institute, partnered with consultancy giant Deloitte, Belgian companies have the highest maturity for mobility in Europe.
This pole position is mainly attributed to the mobility budget put in place by the government for driving the switch from company cars to alternative mobility solutions. However, it doesn’t imply that Belgians are massively abandoning their cars.
The Mobility Maturity Map from Fleet Europe’s Smart Mobility Institute doesn’t focus on public behavior but on company strategies, which are nevertheless regarded as a crucial driver for the broader adoption of new forms of mobility.
With a score of 76%, Belgium outranks Spain (66%), The Netherlands (63%), the United Kingdom (58%), and Italy (55%). Belgium also scores high on the switch to public transport (again, within corporate circles) and the availability of alternative mobility providers.
With fewer large cities
Peculiar about the result is that Belgium has fewer large cities than the countries mentioned above. Because of their density, these urban areas are ideal incubators for adopting soft mobility solutions.
Looking more in detail, Belgium’s top score can be mainly attributed to the support from the mobility budget. With this reimbursement benefit, employees can choose all sorts of sustainable transport modes, from e-scooters over ride-hailing to public transport and electric cars, or ultimately opt for the cash.
In absolute figures, the mobility budget hasn’t exactly hit the bull’s eye so far. While the trend is growing, only one in two hundred employees are seduced by the package. The low-scale popularity motivated Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem (CD&V), recently to expand the included costs. For example, employees living within a range of 10 kilometers can now even use their budget to fund housing costs.
According to the study, this broad scope gives Belgium an edge over other European countries that deployed a similar incentive, like the Netherlands and Germany, where the mobility budget spans a less exhaustive range of options. It underlines the need and importance of political incentives to change behavior.
On a general level, the adoption of multimodal mobility remains a marginal phenomenon. In a consumer study published by Deloitte in January, only 4% of the Belgians admittedly turned to this flexible solution daily. And only 10% used public transport.
Likewise, the higher than average shift to buses and trains by employees is in stark contrast to the overall performance of the public transportation companies. Flemish bus operator De Lijn saw passenger traffic falling by 40% compared to pre-Covid years. Scoring 8%, the rail share in multimodality in Belgium lies lower than in neighboring countries.