Report Forum 2040
Session on the theme Mobility
Various participants voiced their misgivings as to the Vision on Mobility posited by Brussels Airport Company, and whether it was based on the correct premises. Is no other vision possible, based on different starting points?
Certain mayors and interest group representatives wonder if the Vision’s feasibility has been sufficiently assessed and call for more figures to substantiate the Strategic Vision 2040. Other participants would like a quantification of the impact of various possible options as presented in the Vision for Mobility (for example, the impact of improved access via E40 on Ring road traffic). Generally speaking, many participants call for increased quantification of the Vision for Mobility and more concrete plans. Better insight into both short and long term investment plans is desirable as well.
Another issue involved the amount of consideration given to such matters as future technological developments or developments in labour and “The New Way of Working”. For example, many young people today are already adapting their mobility behaviour.
> It is recommended that Brussels Airport Company provide more substantive information on the starting points guiding the Vision 2040 and the extent to which these have been tested against other possible trends and evolutions. Brussels Airport Company could also explain the intended phasing of various investments.
Suggestions, objections and areas of concern related to public transport
Many participants consider the Diabolo tax “problematic”. The following objections are presented:
- The tax should not apply to regional passengers and commuters only using the airport train station as a transfer hub to other domestic destinations.
- For other passengers, it would be best to include the tax in the ticket price, to avoid the trip to the airport being perceived as an “additional cost”.
A general consensus exists that public transport (train, tram, bus) could be improved on multiple fronts, namely: frequency, punctuality, comfort and price.
- Particular attention is requested for better nocturnal public transport availability, providing workers with a viable alternative to their own vehicle and removing obstacles for (in particular job-seeking and/or young) people who don’t own a vehicle.
- Specifically, for airport commuter traffic, options such as shared taxis and carpooling should be stimulated (supported by online platforms).
- Many participants also call for public transport to better align with working hours, with 24/7 availability.
- Several participants refer to other major European airports (such as Madrid and Zurich), pointing out their accessibility by underground and/or high-speed train. Brussels Airport should be able to offer this as well.
- Improved connections between Brussels and the airport would also help attract more jobseekers from Brussels. The same holds true for other cities throughout the country.
- Several mayors noted the desirability of existing bus, tram and train connections for their towns being extended to include the airport. This could be a solution for commuter traffic to and from the airport at relatively short notice.
- The request for increased efforts by e.g. De Lijn should not lead to essential services within municipalities being reduced in favour of the airport. Not “one or the other”, but “both”.
- Safeguarding public transport accessibility for wheelchair users, the elderly, etc.
There is also a fairly broad consensus that implementing one single ticket for all forms of public transport (NMBS, De Lijn, MIVB, TEC) would significantly improve ease of travel for all passengers. Better alignment of existing services provided by the various transport companies is desirable as well. Some participants think the information on the accessibility of the airport needs to be improved, especially for tourists. For example, upon ordering a ticket, passengers could immediately be provided with information on various ways to reach the airport or the city of Brussels.
> Although Brussels Airport Company has no direct influence on (most of) the above aspects regarding public transport, it is important that Brussels Airport Company proactively raise these issues with the various parties concerned. For aspects relating to the organisation of (nocturnal) commuter traffic, Brussels Airport Company must investigate the extent to which it can itself stimulate or facilitate initiatives within the airport business community.
Suggestions, objections and areas of concern related to traffic flows and infrastructure
There is a general consensus that we need to move away from the current situation, where all passengers must almost unavoidably be dropped off right by the terminal. The car must no longer be considered the central point of focus.
Some participants suggest encouraging the good habits of the younger generation, which seems less devoted to the automobile.
It is necessary to better map the various passenger flows and analyse the expectations and requirements of various “passenger types” in order to formulate more focused policies (business travel vs. tourism, with or without luggage, commuters, etc.). The resulting insights will be useful inspiration in the formulation of concrete measures. Possible measures suggested by participants:
- Remote car parks: both in the immediate periphery of the airport site (e.g. Brucargo) or even further away. Dedicated shuttle services and/or connections with public transport services can bring passengers to the terminal. It is essential that the car parks are well equipped and guarantee a smooth connection to the terminals. Someone suggests building these car parks above the motorway, similar to some German airports.
- Facilities for early or remote baggage check-in.
- Intercepting passenger flows from the Netherlands over major access routes at the border and transporting them to the airport by shuttle. In this regard, a cooperation with long distance bus companies (FlixBus and similar) can be investigated.
- A few people wonder if it might be better to spread the flights more evenly over the day in order to allow traffic flows to be more evenly distributed as well.
- Some wonder if companies located at or near the airport (such as Deloitte, KPMG, Microsoft) are making enough of an effort to have their employees work from decentralised locations or even to allow them to work from home, decreasing commuter traffic.
Many participants note the potential of the bicycle as a means of transport to the airport. Suggestions in this regard:
- Finish the bicycle loop (fast bicycle route from Leuven to the airport). (Announced for 2018 by Brussels Airport Company during the session).
- More and better facilities for cyclists at the airport (showers, bicycle parking facilities, charging stations for electric bicycles), and extra attention paid to cyclists’ safety.
- Fiscal and parafiscal employee incentives (e.g. free electric bicycle in exchange for parking pass).
- Bicycle allowance feasible?
Measures to discourage drop-off/pick-up traffic (four movements instead of two).
Better and faster connections with regional airports that could take over some of the Brussels Airport traffic.
Improved access from the existing motorways around the airport to relieve the traffic on the Ring road among other things.
- Optimise current accessibility via Ring/A20.
- Use existing access route via E19 (Brucargo) for terminal-bound traffic (necessitates shuttle from Brucargo).
- Investigate feasibility of third access route to airport (from E40 and/or from Vilvoorde/Schaarbeek).
- Investigate feasibility of access via N227.
> For aspects relating to mobility (cycling, etc.), Brussels Airport Company must investigate the extent to which it can itself stimulate or facilitate initiatives within the airport business community.
Suggestions, objections and areas of concern related to cargo
A few participants wondered how incontrovertible a “fact” the projected growth for cargo activities at Zaventem really is. The question was raised of whether Brussels Airport couldn’t adopt a more directing role, focusing on cargo with added value (e.g. pharma, technology).
Other participants noted the increased rat running by lorries coming from Brucargo and seeking to avoid the kilometre charge (partially at least) by taking local roads instead of the E19 to the Ring/E40.
Another point of concern is the growing number of parked lorries (often Eastern European) on local roads.
Aspects of the vision on mobility considered “problematic”
Various participants value the proactive approach of Brussels Airport, but wish regional or federal policymakers had been the instigators, providing broader insight into the various projects in and around Brussels and more rounded answers to their questions. After all, the approach to mobility in the Strategic Vision 2040 does not consider other developments for Brussels which may also impact mobility on and around the Ring road.
The fragmentation among the Flemish Region, Brussels Region and Federal government is seen as problematic for Brussels Airport Company’s mobility plans.
According to some mayors, there’s no point in discussing the feasibility of extra car parks to the south of the airport as part of the Strategic Vision 2040 without simultaneously discussing access from the E40. Indeed, this creates a level of uncertainty for local residents.
Some participants also indicate the futility of discussing additional business parks in the Strategic Vision 2040 while plenty of office space is still available in the business parks in Zaventem and Diegem. A Brussels Airport Company representative remarks that the new offices planned on the airport site itself meet the specific needs of certain enterprises to be located directly by the airport.
The necessity is also stressed of carrying out a preliminary multidisciplinary impact study evaluating current vision plans in terms of spatial planning, the environment, mobility, etc.
There are reservations about the effectiveness of the intended fiscal measures mentioned in the Strategic Vision in solving various mobility issues. Consumers’ resistance to change and the lack of sufficient high-quality public transport alternatives are likely to be stronger than any fiscal incentives.
Some participants also wonder if Brussels Airport Company has enough leverage to encourage or force other parties into taking mobility-friendly measures.
> Brussels Airport Company will be asked to address the above-mentioned objections and suggestions during a subsequent consultation session.