Brussels park-and-rides becoming free of charge as of today (update)

As of today, a subscription to one of the park-and-ride car parks in the outskirts of Brussels will be completely free for commuters who use transport in this way. The Brussels parking agency parking.brussels has announced this. The prices for bicycle parking in a Cycloparking will also go down significantly, namely by three quarters

The price reductions are linked to the Brussels government’s new climate, air, and energy plan. This was approved in May of this year. In addition, parking subscriptions for commuter car drivers who use park-and-ride facilities will become free, instead of 60 euros per year plus 1,5 euros per day of use. Also, it will become completely free for occasional users who used to pay 3 euros per day.

Push for bicycle use

“By making the Park+Ride free, we want to encourage our commuters and visitors to Brussels to park at the entrance to the city and use our efficient public transport,” says Brussels Mobility Minister, Elke Van den Brandt (Groen). “In addition, the new rates for bicycle parking will ensure that more Brussels residents and visitors opt for a bicycle.”

As of 5 September, a season ticket for a space in a secured Cycloparking bike park costs 15 euros per year, instead of 60 euros. In addition, the subscription for a cargo bike drops from 120 euros to 30 euros per year.

Cyclists who obtain a parking space between 1 August 2022 and the effective implementation of the decree in September will be reimbursed the difference later. In addition, season tickets for commuter car parking will become free of charge.

Free parking will also apply to occasional visitors, instead of 3 euros, on presentation of a public transport ticket at the car parking station. Without this ticket, the rates remain unchanged.

From barely to sufficient users

The Brussels-Capital Region has seven car parks designated as Park & Rides: Erasmus, Coovi, Stalle, Delta, Herrmann-Debroux, Roodebeek, and Kraainem. Currently, parking.brussels is actively managing two car parks as a P+R with a subscription formula. At a P+R, commuters can also switch to a shared bicycle or e-scooter. With the recently launched Good Move circulation plan in the Brussels Pentagon, the city of Brussels also hopes that more commuters will make use of these car parks on the outskirts of the city.

Exact figures for the number of users are not available. Nevertheless, P+R Coovi in Anderlecht, located just off the Brussels Ring Road, was opened in 2019 but barely attracted visitors. The maximum occupancy never exceeded 20%, although recent figures show that the occupancy rate is improving.

The other interchange car parks in the Brussels suburbs can count on sufficient visitors. There are plans to expand the P+R of Stalle and Kraainem to 800 places because of their success. The main objective of these P+Rs is to reduce congestion and parking charges in the city.

Within the framework of the new management contract between the Regional Parking Agency and the Brussels-Capital Region, parking.brussels has set itself the main objectives of providing 20 000 off-street parking spaces, 10 000 secure bike parking spaces, and 10 000 bicycle racks for parking bicycles for short periods by 2026.

The aim is also to convince as many municipalities as possible to entrust their parking policy to parking.brussels by 2026.

Lack of a bigger plan

In an article today, the newspaper De Standaard takes a brief look at the phenomenon of empty mega car parks on the edge of the city. Both the P+R Ledeberg (500 places) and the P+R Het Getouw in the Bloemekenswijk in Ghent (also 500 places), as well as three similar car parks in Antwerp (including Luchtbal with 1 700 places), are now more ghost car parks than busy mobility hubs where people can change to tram or bus to keep the city car-free.

According to the newspaper, such mega car parks on the outskirts of the city struggle with poor signage, good alternatives (getting to the city center by car is too easy), and the cost (parking there is often more expensive than in the city center).

Flemish Government Architect Leo Van Broeck calls these peripheral car parks in De Standaard “a childhood illness of the transition”. If you continue to provide parking facilities in the city center and do not invest heavily in public transport and other links, the car parks will remain empty boxes, he says.

According to him, a bigger plan is also lacking. For example, car park operators and public transport companies could perfectly offer a combined ticket for a parking space and public transport, something that Brussels is now trying to do.

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