Living in Brussels?
Transportation in Brussels
A Central Location and Good Connections
Brussels has two airports: the main Brussels Airport and the smaller Brussels South Charleroi Airport. Both are served by regular bus services from the city center. A bus from the European Quarter takes about 30 minutes to reach Brussels Airport, but you’ll need twice as long for the journey to Charleroi Airport on the dedicated shuttle bus leaving Brussels main station (Bruxelles Midi) every 30 minutes. Brussels Airport also has a train station: a trip between the city center (Bruxelles Central) and the main airport takes 17 minutes. Getting to Charleroi Airport by train involves a 20-minute bus journey between Charleroi Railway Station and the airport terminal.
Due to its central location within Western Europe, Brussels is easily reached both by rail and automobile. Brussels maintains high-speed (up to 300 km/h) train connections with other major European cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Cologne, and Frankfurt. For train connections within Belgium, please check the website of the SNCB/NMBS, the Belgian National Railway Society.
Belgium has a good road network, with Brussels in the center of a fan-like arrangement of old national roads. You can approach the city on highways from all directions, and they all lead to the outer ring road. From there, it is easy to get on the inner ring road and to the city center.
Fast and Efficient: Public Transportation
Public transportation is organized by STIB, the Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (called MIVB in Dutch). STIB operates the Brussels metro and an extensive network of bus, tram, and night-bus services. Thanks to a standardized ticketing system, STIB ticket holders may also use trains and coaches within the boundaries of the city. The metro is undoubtedly the fastest means of transportation, not to mention that the walls of most metro stations are embellished with works of art that you can admire while waiting for the next train.
Tickets can be purchased at ticket machines in metro stations, at an STIB kiosk, from the bus driver, or online. A single fare costs either 2.10 EUR or 2.50 EUR — the more expensive tariff applies to tickets bought from the driver on board. There are ten different types of regular tickets available and eight different “formulas” of season tickets. Alternatively you can get the new MOBIB pass, an electronic card charged at will with season or single tickets. For more information on fares and timetables, consult the STIB website. You could also download the STIB-MIVB app, which is available for both Android and iPhone.
The More Expensive Means of Transportation: Taxi
Taxis can be hailed on the street or at a taxi stand. There is no main taxi hotline, so it’s worth keeping a record of the telephone number of at least one taxi company in Brussels. A list of all taxi companies with contact details can be found on the website Bruxelles Mobilité; Taxi Verts and Taxi Bleus are the dominant Brussels operators but there are several smaller ones as well.
If you hail a cab on the street, make sure it’s registered in the Règion de Bruxelles-Capitale, otherwise your ride might turn out to be very expensive. You can recognize available taxis by their white “libre” (free) sign on the windshield. Fares are the same across all taxi companies, i.e. 1.80 EUR per km for daytime rides within the 19 municipalities, and 2.70 EUR for every journey outside the city boundaries. The taxi meter always starts at 2.40 EUR, and for night rides between 22:00 and 06:00, there is a surcharge of 2.00 EUR.
The Greener Alternative
There are several regional transportation providers operating bus and train services, notably the Flemish company De Lijn and the Walloon transportation society TEC (Transport en commun). Brussels is currently investing heavily in the RER project (Réseau express régional): the city aims to use pre-existing railways, within a radius of 30 km, for a new train network in order to provide a fast and reliable service for commuters and a real alternative to the car. At the moment, this network is supposed to be in service by 2017.
In its fight against congestion and pollution, Brussels City Council has introduced several schemes, such as the Prime Bruxell’Air, which awards free public transportation, carpooling, and bicycles to people who give up their car’s license plates, and eventually scrap the car itself. Carpooling schemes are open to all. If you are interested in using one, go to the website of such providers as Cambio, Zen Car, and Carpool.
Cycling is also being actively encouraged by Brussels authorities by means of interactive cycling maps, cycling classes, and various promotions. For more information, please check the bicycle section of Bruxelles Mobilité.
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