Traffic congestion could be solved through co-operation, says VUB


A more co-ordinated approach among public transport services and Belgium’s regions could offer immediate gains in traffic management, say researchers

‘Competing interests’

A study by researchers at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) has shown that there are significant short-term gains to be had from a more co-ordinated approach to transport management, with better co-operation between the country’s three regions urgently needed.

For his PhD, Geert te Boveldt of Mobi, the mobility research group of the Free University of Brussels (VUB), developed and tested a new method of evaluating contemporary mobility, alongside two colleagues from the university’s French-speaking counterpart, ULB.

“The aim of this research is to help advance metropolitan mobility policy, through highlighting the opportunities as well as the competing interests of the various stakeholders,” te Boveldt said. “We want to offer a new perspective for the current and future mobility of the Brussels metropolitan area.”

Influx to capital

The researchers analysed urban mobility in Brussels, specifically the existing infrastructure and the availability of public transport, the reasons for people’s movements around the region and their preferred modes of transport. They also studied the region’s decision-making structure and its consequences for mobility management. Finally they examined major transport projects, as well as the challenges they present in relation to co-operation between the regions.

In the second phase of the study, they developed a new approach to evaluating transport projects. The aim was to map the interests of all stakeholders, to illustrate progress and impasse points, and to identify links between the various issues.

They explored how the influx of commuters to Brussels from outside and the mutual dependence of the city centre and the periphery for logistics and freight transport create major mobility challenges and demand a new approach.

Once these ‘easy’ wins have been achieved, it becomes simpler to deal with points of contention

- Geert te Boveldt

In the capital region, the study found, better integration of existing public transport between the three regional operators, MIVB, De Lijn and TEC, would allow more than a third of the region’s inhabitants to get around more easily without the need to create extra services, and would take only minor investment. The immediate outskirts of Brussels, meanwhile, suffer from poor public transport connections, which could be improved by extending existing services or upgrading bike paths.

Short-term gains are also possible through measures such as better integration of tickets between the three operators and introducing ticket price caps.

“Once these ‘easy’ wins have been achieved and the importance of better integration is demonstrated, it becomes simpler to deal with points of contention,” te Boveldt said. These include the S-train regional express network and connections between inter- and intra-city services or the renovation of the Brussels ring road.

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