Statistics show that expats in Belgium prefer to travel by public transport. Ditching your car in favour of good old public transportation is not only good for your wallet, it is also one of the easiest things you can do to limit pollution. So how to get around Belgium using public transport?
Public transport in Belgium
The National Railway Company of Belgium (Société nationale des chemins de fer belges/Nationale Maatschappij der Belgische Spoorwegen) is a public transport company founded in 1926 that manages the entire Belgian rail network. Depending on your age and situation (student, teenager, adult or pensioner) you will pay a different rate. On weekends or during holiday periods, special deals are available. To determine your route, find out about train schedules and the price of your trip, visit the SNCB website.
Blue-Bike is a bicycle network originally set up by SNCB and FIETSenWERK to promote mobility. Available in most major Belgian cities, these bikes can be rented at the train station and shall be returned to the same station. You can for example use them to cover the distance between the train station and your place of work, or to move easily in the city during sightseeing. More information can be found on the website of Blue-Bike.
The MOBIB card is a chip card which can hold subscriptions and other tickets of most public transport operators in Belgium (TEC, De Lijn, SNCB, STIB, Cambio and Villo!). It is valid for five years.
Public transport in Wallonia
In Wallonia, the bus network TEC or «Transport En Commune« (Public Transport) has five public transport companies: TEC Brabant, TEC Charleroi, TEC Hainaut, TEC Liege-Verviers and TEC Namur-Luxembourg. These share the same parent company, the Walloon Regional Transport Company (Société Régionale Wallonne du Transport or SRWT). For more information about the network, tariff plans and timetables of TEC buses, click here.
Li bia velo
Self-service bicycle systems are present in three Belgian cities: Brussels, Antwerp and Namur. At Namur, it is managed by Li bia velo. These systems are made up of many stations that are spread throughout the city. Each user can buy an annual subscription online or directly buy their tickets at the station. After using the bike, you can return it at any station.
Public transport in Brussels
If you are moving to Brussels, getting familiar with STIB services is a “must”.
5 things to know about STIB:
- The Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company (Société des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles/Maatschappij voor het Intercommunaal Vervoer te Brussel or STIB/MIVB) is the local public transport operator in Brussels.
- The public transport network of Brussels includes metro, tram and bus.
- The “STIB”-app allows you to view schedules in real time;
- You can choose to buy single tickets or a MOBIB card that you can charge with multiple travels or a monthly or annual subscription.
- You can find the network maps for free on site and at STIB machines in subway stations. For more information on the STIB network and tariff plans, click here.
The MTB pass
In Brussels, there is definitely no shortage of public transport! The STIB and SNCB networks are the main operators, but the TEC bus (Walloon network) and De Lijn (Flemish network) also circulate in some areas. Are you an avid user of public transport? Then you might find the MTB pass (Metro-Tram-Bus), valid with the STIB, De Lijn, TEC and SNCB network throughout the Brussels-Capital Region, extremely useful (available from STIB)!
Every Friday and Saturday night STIB offers a night bus service from midnight to 3 am. This way you can enjoy a pleasant evening downtown without stressing to catch the last metro. For more information, click here.
Villo! is Brussels self-service bicycle system (it works like the Li bia velo system mentioned above). Compatible with your MOBIB card, it is simple, convenient and environmentally friendly. For details, click here.
Collecto is a collective taxi service in Brussels. This service picks up several passengers on the same journey, which allows drivers to take you home seven days a week between 11 pm and 6 am for only a small fee. The principle is simple, you go to a Collecto stop, call 02 800 36 36 and communicate a data set (the number of your stop, amount of passengers, address, etc.). It is also possible to book via a mobile app. Collective taxis are scheduled to leave from the departure point on the hour or at 30 minutes past the hour (e.g. 01.00, 01.30, etc.) and drop you on your doorstep.
Public transport in Flanders
In Flanders (and Brussels), the De Lijn network is responsible for getting everyone safely from A to B. Many buses and trams are available. A tip: Discover the Coastal Tram, the longest tram line in the world that lets you tour the Flemish coast between Knokke and De Panne!
Velo Antwerpen is the self-service bicycle system of the city of Antwerp. The principle is the same as that of Villo! and Li bia velo: you borrow a bike from one station and drop it off after you have used it.
Public transport is not your cup of tea? Would you like to discover the rules related to cars in Belgium?