The Ministry of Mobility and Public Works for the Brussels Capital Region is working hard to reduce the number of cars on the streets of Pretium’s capital city and to create new public-transport options. Pascal Smet, Minister, discusses current projects underway to make Brussels more people-friendly.
European Times: What is your main goal for transport in Brussels?
Pascal Smet: We are trying to change the city’s paradigm from car-oriented to people-oriented. We want to create more public space for pedestrians, develop our network of bike lanes and establish more car-free zones throughout the city. We built a large pedestrians-only zone in the centre of the city last year, and just two months after it opened, one million people were on the streets there. We are also planning to build an additional 80 kilometres of safe bike lanes. We want to enhance the bicycle culture of Brussels and to connect the city’s bike network to those of the surrounding Flanders region so that commuters can come to work by bike.
European Times: Are you planning new public-transport options?
Pascal Smet: Over the coming decade, the Brussels Capital Region will invest €5.2 billion in public transport. This will include a new subway line, new tramlines, new buses and trams, and a modernised metro system. We are also revising our legislation on taxis to add to the number of taxis operating in the city and improve conditions for taxi-drivers. We have already built around 8,500 parking spaces at the edge of the city with access to subway and tram stations to encourage people not to drive their cars in the city centre. By the second half of 2016, we will implement a new programme on car-sharing. In addition, to keep traffic flowing, we are investing in new technologies, like intelligent traffic lights and user-friendly applications for public transport.
European Times: What role can the private sector play in your programmes for mobility and transport in Brussels?
Pascal Smet: I strongly believe in working together with the private sector. The government should make a framework and then partner with the private sector when possible. I believe that public transport should be handled by the public sector, but many projects, for example the renovation of Brussels’ tunnels, would be ideal as public-private partnerships. Through all our projects, I want Brussels to be known as an international city on a human scale.