Don’t you just love public transport? I do, at least, most of the time. Although as of late, “most of the time” has become “half of the time”. Ever since I started working in Brussels, I commute to work using public transport. In theory, it works pretty well. It takes exactly 1 hour to get from my door to the doors at work, all modes of transport included. In practice, there are some clear advantages and disadvantages of using public transport for my daily commute.
My 45 minute commute contains ~25 minutes of train and ~10 minutes of metro. The rest is walking. Unfortunately, this schedule has become rarer in the last few years. It’s almost like expecting a politician not to try and circumvent an uncomfortable question. It’s not impossible, but it sure as hell is not something you expect to happen.
My public transport cons
Delay, delay, delay
These delays have become part of my daily routine. If it was only a few minutes, I wouldn’t care, but alas, more often than not, it’s 10 minutes, with spikes well into the 20 minutes region.
The National Railways is working on improvements, but it’s not really showing. Their punctuality even decreased to 87.2% (FYI, a delay here means: a train that doesn’t reach the end station within 6 minutes of its foreseen arrival time).
And sweating during hot summers
Whether it’s winter or summer, I have come to accept that I sweat profusely by the time I arrive at the station. It isn’t “the fault” of anything or anyone: I just sweat faster than most (most likely due to my fitness level).
This grievance gets validated almost daily. Even as recent as this week just standing still on the metro. During rush hour it can get crowded on the metro and due to lack of airconditioning, it becomes damp and hot (at least for me) fast.
What do you think happens after not even a minute in? Correct, I feel my pores opening and the salty liquid merely pouring out like they are sliding down a slide at the water park.
By the time I’m at my destination, I have to walk like a bodybuilder on steroids to prevent my shirt from becoming a wet rag.
The Pros of public transport
Pro number 1: Saving money
Even with the daily annoyances, I really do prefer the public transport for my commute. Besides the aforementioned benefits of not having to drive yourself, there is one additional major reason for it:
I save money! Because the government gives a tax incentive when you take public transport it’s free for me.
On top of that, I earn money because I bike part of my commute.
“Earn” and “save” don’t say a lot, so let me put some real numbers:
- One yearly pass for both my train (route) and metro: 1781 EUR
- 12 km round trip/workday for an entire year, excl. [email protected],22 euro/km: 538.56 EUR
This gives me a total of 2320.56 EUR/year I save and earn.
And this doesn’t include the money I save by not getting a (salary or personal) car. The benefits are even greater if I include the additional costs saved by not having to pay car costs.
Public transport rules: main advantages
With the above summary, I have concluded my daily struggle with Belgian public transport.
It won’t be the last post, especially if I ever do decide to switch to a car but that’ll do for now.
This was my story but what about you? Please leave a comment telling how your daily commute is like. Or do you live close to your office not needing public transport? Maybe your home is your office? Do you have a financial incentive to ditch the car and take public transport?